Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holidays and Great 2013!

Our environmentally friendly Holiday Card.  All the same great wishes, none of the environmental waste.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Away from the boat

Dessie on the webcam
Almost like being there, we can see our boat from the Marina webcam.  She sure looks small with all the larger boats around her.

Hopefully we will get down there in the next few days, and spend some time enjoying warmer weather.  If not, we will take some time in early January and try to get to north Florida.

Right now we are accomplishing some big projects on both houses and getting one ready for new renters. Bonnie's cork counter-top project is looking pretty good.

We hope all our friends and family, near and far, have a great holiday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Back in Annapolis

Work and needs back home brought us back for a while.  We came home to a cat that decided to express that he was dissatisfied with our length of time away - and that Casey was not enough company for him.  He marked almost every carpet in the house at least once.  We have a new roof leak as well.

Other than that, the house, animals, and Casey survived us being gone quite well.

Here is a link to some of the photos from the trip so far.  Hope to add to it as I collect them all.



I dropped off the motherboard from the Heatpump/AC unit to be diagnosed.  Hopefully it wont be too expensive.

Its quite a bit colder up here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Arriving in Charleston

We were up early, partly as we were excited to get to Charleston, and partly because it was so cold in the boat.  We had the propane heater and propane stove running to warm things up.

We can't run the propane heater at night as it can burn up all the oxygen in the boat.  It only takes it a little while to make the Carbon Dioxide detector quite unhappy.

Bonnie got coffee going, and I got the boat ready to move.  We could hear all the duck hunters around us shooting like it was a war zone.

It was an uneventful and pretty run.  This was a nice change, as nothing broke and no mishaps happened.

As we entered the harbor, Bonnie saw seagulls following one of the late season shrimp boats working deep water in the harbor.  She grabbed some stale crackers and threw a few out.  Within a couple minutes, all the gulls left the shrimp boat en masse and moved to us.  We could have made our on Hitchcock thriller.



They followed us all the way to the mouth of the Ashley river.

We had been remiss on contacting the City Marina about a slip, and as it was Thanksgiving there was no one to answer a phone call or hail.  We thought it best to anchor in the 'new' anchorage across from the marina, and check-in, in the morning.  As with Beaufort, the currents would be opposing the wind.  Not fun.  We found a good spot near another catamaran and prepped to drop the anchor.

The owner of that catamaran came out and held up his radio mic for us to hail him.  I was having visions of the Frenchman in Beaufort.  We established contact on the radio and he warned us of a large debris field under where were looking to anchor.  We thanked him and started looking for a different spot.

I moved forward to the channel and close to the Megadock (the City marina's massive front dock).  It had many open spaces on it.  So I figured that we should just grab a spot - as we planned to check in with them in the morning anyway.  As we approached, we saw Fortunate and Comocean, two boats belonging to friends of ours, just on the back side of the Megadock.  So was tied up just across from them.


Our friends' boats

As we looked around we saw two other boats here from our travels - Ata Marie from our few days in Cape Charles, and Windward (actually they saw us) from our first days on the ICW. It was like old home week.

The next day My Pleasure, from our sandbar adventure day, arrived.  We spent an evening reminiscing those events, and helping them with their new iPad.

Tokkie on Ata Maria invited us for drinks and some great cheeses one night. We reciprocated by having them over for lamb chops.  Then today they took us to lunch at Hymans downtown, and played tour guide for us at the market.

Prepped for company.
Somewhere in there, as group of happy sailors came by and asked about Bonnie's lights. It ended up that they were from the Annapolis area - one couple owned a marina in Tracy's Landing, one couple left to explore the east coast this winter on their Lagoon 44, then plan to go to the UK in the spring. Also among them was the Lagoon sales rep from Annapolis.  We had drinks and played Mexican Train dominoes with then until late one night.  Notice a trend here?

The folks at the City Marina were great. We signed up for a month, and they moved us to a spot near, and on the same side, as Fortunate and Comocean.
Dessie at the Megadock

Tomorrow we will arrange for a rental car to take home for a few weeks. We'll also check out downtown again, and start setting up Desert Star for her few week rest here.

I need to coordinate new parts for the AC/Heat pump and record all the model and serial numbers.

So that was pretty much our Thanksgiving weekend.  It'll be hard to top it next year.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Butler Island to Beautiful Marsh

ICW 395 to 430

We were up at 6:15 to try and get an early start so that we would have time to visit Georgetown, SC and still make Charleston tomorrow in the early afternoon.

We awoke to a cold boat.  I thought the generator ran out of fuel, but actually the heater broke.  Can you say Brrrrr?

We had the current with us and made Georgetown in an hour and a half.  We got gas at the first gas dock and the staff there apparently did not have their coffee yet.  They lacked any sense of southern hospitality.

We moved to the town dock to tie up and go for a walk.  We came upon the Ship's Booty in the 'Mall' as they call it. The owner's husband opened early and we had a very nice chat with him.  Bonnie found a few cute things.  We ate lunch at the Big Tuna by the dock.  They had a special of steamed oysters. It was a large tray of clusters of oysters.  It took me an hour to eat them all and my hands got a good workout.  They were very fresh.  Bonnie had the Grouper sandwich with well done fries (Thanks Arnon and Nancy for the well done suggestion).

Entering the harbor, and leaving, Bonnie donated some old bread to the gulls.  It was quite a show.

We had a mixed current the rest of the way.  We came to Leland Marine and looked in their creek for a place to anchor.  It was too tight.  We passed a guy on the dock and asked how much they charge for the night. We are pretty sure he said $6 a foot.  Probably not, but we took it as a sign to keep moving.

We anchored near whereMark Doyle had a good anchorage listed in his cruising guide.  It was quite and beautiful.  Probably the most beautiful so far - and that is saying a lot.

Sunset in the marsh in South Carolina
I dropped the dink and did some fishing.  No luck.  But I got some great photos and video of the boat at sunset.

Pretty nice!!!!

Bonnie made Scallops Provincial for dinner. It was incredible. But that's what dinner is most every night with her.



Bonnie will be baking a lot tonight to heat the boat.  :-)




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shallotte Inlet to Butler Island, SC

ICW 335 to 395

The night went very well.  I got up once when the tide changed and the anchor alarm went off.  Dessie was sitting just fine and the anchor held fine.  The current was probably 3 kts in each direction and the winds were howling again at gusts over 25 kts.  Will it EVER get warm and sunny!

We got up while it was still dark and were underway just as the sun was rising.  We really wanted to make Georgetown, SC, but that was not to be.

We entered South Carolina about 8:08 am.  The current was with us much of the way.  Then it changed.  We seemed to have it and the wind against us for the next 45 miles.

We passed the Casino boats, a lot of bridges, and the rock pile (a narrow cut with rocks on each side).

Casino Boats

Lighthouse along ICW

Three tugs, a large barge, and couple hundred feet of pipe.  The  last tugs was steering from behind like a  large fire truck

The bridges were monitoring channel 9 and opened on request.  However, we found if a boat was just far enough ahead of us, that the bridge just closed, they will make us wait a while.

We passed our friend Brooke's house.  We tried to reach her, but no luck. So we anchored on the back side of Butler Island, where two other boats also dropped their hook for the night.  I tried some fishing with a little lure, and even tried hanging the dive light over the side to attract fish.  No luck.

But what a great time we are having.  We motor, motor sail and even sometimes sail, for many miles - with our well provisioned home and all the comforts.  We stop when we want, or go when we want.  We have cell phone coverage much of the time, and talk with family and friends as easily as in Annapolis.  When evening comes, we drop the hook, eat a terrific meal, do a little fishing, make new friends, and/or have a quiet evening together.  It can't be beat!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wrightsville Beach to Shallotte Inlet NC (Monk's Island)

ICW 283 to 335

We spent three nights in Wrightsville Beach, waiting for the Nor'easter to pass.  It hasn't yet, but we decided it was time to move on anyway.  A few other boats had the same idea, and the front floating dock was full all weekend with cruisers.

We did have a very nice time.  We had use of the loaner car at SeaPath YC, and did a bit of exploring and shopping.  We slept great and made the most of the weather.  We even caught a movie.

Bonnie found the recycling center and I found West Marine.

Winds on Sunday night gusted to 42kts.  We sure felt trapped.  This morning is was a bit better.  Gusts only to 26 kts.  We had the tide and current and wind with us, so we decided to go.  It wasn't as rough as we thought.  The cut had a 3 kt current in our favor and we flew through to the Cape Fear River.  The river tide was slacking and not too bad.  There were long and large swells, bit they were from behind, with the wind, and were gentle on us.

We turned west on the ICW past Cape Fear, and went as far as we could go until dark.  As the sun was setting, we passed a beautiful inlet (other than it being low tide, 25 kt winds and a 2 kts current) that looked incredible in with the setting sun shining from behind us.  So we decided to drop the hook here.

Its probably not the wisest spot, but we have are good enough at this to get a shallow spot out of the channel and the wind almost anywhere.  I will be checking our position often, but we seem to be holding well.

There is 3G coverage, and we saw a beautiful sunset.  I even did a little fishing - caught nothing.  I'll try again at first light.  Tomorrow we hope to make South Carolina about lunch time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mile Hammock to Wrightsville Beach

ICW 244-283

We were up by 7 and underway to time the bridges.  Not far down the ICW, we passed a Hunter 46 (My Pleasure) at New River inlet (72A) that was aground.  We asked if they were okay, and they weren't.  Although the tide was coming in, it was pushing them farther into shallow water and the current was 3 kts from the Inlet direct on their broad side.

We decided to try to throw them a line. Not my brightest idea.  Bonnie was at the helm and not able to keep us moving perpendicular to the current.  The current pushed us into them and bent our BBQ up a bit, and knocked the base off of one of their life line sanctions .  We got away from them before we did any more damage, and I dropped the lines - which quickly proceeded to wrap around their rudder.

We could not leave them like that.  So... we anchored nearby and I took the dink over to them.  I should have done that in the first place.  The lines were all wrapped up and not coming out. So it was time for a swim.  I was really hoping the next time I put on my wet suit it would be in a warm place.  But that was not to be.

It did not take too much effort to untangle the lines.  Of course after unbending the rudder the other day, anything would seem easy in comparison.  We did have a real problem with passing boats.  A group of USMC boats and a few large power boats all passed without slowing down at all, even after repeated hailings on the radio - and seeing them pointing at us.  I can almost expect that from large powerboats, but I was more than a bit disappointed in my fellow Marines.

I then used the dink in combination with their bow thruster to get them off the bar against the current.  It took a bit, but eventually worked.  We were back underway at 9:45am, but our bridge timing was now a mess.  We waited 20 or more minutes at both bridges, with strong currents and winds driving us towards them.  At least the rest of the day was less eventful.

A view of the strong currents while waiting for the bridge

Bonnie called around for slips, and we got a nice one at Seapath Yacht Club.  They were great, and even have a courtesy car and on-site laundry.  We walked to the beach and found a cute surf shop to look for a present for a friend's son's upcoming birthday.  We ended up buying  a used paddle-board for us instead.  The guy there, Mick, delivered to our boat in his pick-up truck.

We ate at the South Beach grill, which was okay.  We enjoyed the Wifi at the Yacht Club and caught up on things while doing laundry.  Its nice to have power and water.  We crashed by about 11pm.  

Beaufort to Mile Hammock (and Dead Engine)

ICW 205 to 244

After a rough night of swinging on the hook, we were up at 6:30 and decided it was too cold to tour Beaufort more.  We'd visit it on the way home in the Spring.  The tide was rushing in at about 2 kts and the winds were down to 15, but had some hefty gusts.

The weather ensured we stayed in the ICW and did not try to venture offshore.  Our Speed over Ground was 9 knots once we turned south on the ICW.  We were making great time, until...

The starboard engine decided it was time to loose all power.  It was really an odd problem, and seems to go into a forced idle mode intermittently.  I called my brother, who knows a lot more about engines. He ran me through some possible causes, but none found the cure while underway.

We started calling marinas looking for Yamaha services. Not much luck.  the tide was turning and the current was going to be a bear on one engine.  So we decided to go into Dudley's Marina.  They were very nice, but did not work on Yamahas.  They swapped out the Racor filters and looked for water.  No luck.

Bonnie posted about our predicament on Facebook, and our next door neighbor in Annapolis, called to tell us of two good service places near there.  Thanks Brent!!!!!!!!  I called them and one, Gregory Pool Engine Services actually has trucks and makes boat calls.  They sent a great guy named Robert, within an hour.  He did the usual checks - plugs, oil, connections, etc.  While checking, he noticed the engines were installed without any alarms hooked up.  Odd.  Then when showing me a cable end, realized that it was bare and might have slipped to a position to be grounding out.  Apparently the grounding out of the sensor was acting like a dead man switch and putting the engine into a low oil survival mode, even though it had oil.  That was a lucky find!

Robert checked over the engines and gave me a list of things to change and connect, when we got someplace warm and had time.

We were back under way at 3:19pm.  We raced to catch the Oslo Beach Bridge, when we did - and weren't even the last boat through.  We motored down past the Marine Corps Training Center where I spent many a training exercise.  It brought back a lot of memories.

USMC Osprey

It was dark as we arrived at the Mile Hammock anchorage.  We eased through the other 9 boats at anchor and found a good spot in the back near the boat ramp.

We were in best before 10, in a sheltered anchorage listening to the night ops flights of CH-53s going overhead.

Friday, November 16, 2012

R.E. Mayo to Beaufort, NC

ICW 157 to 205

We shoved off from R.E. Mayo's dock just before 7am.  The Neuse river was very rough and seas appeared to be about 3 or more feet.  It was a wild ride, and we motored sailed with the Jenny most of the way.

Bonnie wanted to see Oriental, NC.  So we headed there.  We arrived about 10:30 and anchored in the mouth of the harbor as the only free dock was full.  We took the dinghy to the town dinghy dock and found a great recycling center there as well.  We bought a few things, and a new Brazilian hat for me at the Inland Waterway Provisioning Company.  Then went to get coffee at the Bean, and drop in on a friend of our neighbors - who wasn't at the office that day.

We were thinking of eating ashore, but the boat was well provisioned and we were hoping to make Beaufort by dark.  Bonnie had some stale bread and the seagulls became her buddies for a bit.

Bonnie feeding the gulls in Oriental, NC


It was still very windy and we again had winds from the N/NE in the 20s, gusting to 30.

We entered Beaufort by the back channel and did a balancing act at the draw bridge for 20 minutes with 2 kt current and 20 kt winds.

We motored around to Taylor Creek and searched the crowded anchorage for a place to drop the hook.  We did not find much, and as it was cold, we did not want to be too far away.

So I boldly dropped the hook between two French boats, just off of the channel.  One owner came out and in gesturs that required no translation, let me know he thought I was a bit too close.  I probably was, as we drifted back more than I wanted.  So we upped anchor and moved a little forward.

Taylor Creek anchorage is known for opposing winds and currents that move boats every which way.  These 20 kts winds were perfect for such an event. So I was a bit stressed about it.  Next time I plan to get a slip there.

We ate dinner at Clawson's (the food was not great) and walked around the town. It was very cold and windy, so the walk did not last too long.

We were in bed by 9:00.  I got up to check on things at about midnight and found Dessie sitting totally different than the other boats, with the anchor trailing back and to starboard and the boat sideways out in the channel.  The combination of wind, current and a light boat were providing interesting results.  I reduced the length of anchor rode to avoid inadvertently visiting neighboring boats, and played with the rudder angle to see if I could settle her out.  It worked a little, and I checked on it every hour.  That did not make for a great night's sleep.


Pungo River Anchorage to R.E Mayo

ICW 127 to 157

Life sometimes prepares us for events in mysterious ways.  Back in late 2008 I hit a dredge pipe and bent both rudders.  A former PDQ employee and incredible boat expert named James, and Sandy a PDQ owner, and I devised a way to rig a come-along from the bow pulpit to the rudder.  We then created a bracing system around the rudder and 'cranked' the rudder back to center.  The only caveat was that the boat was on land and we had lots of time and muscle to pull it off.

We set out about 8am to figure out what to do about the rudder, and possibly find a place to haul the boat.  The day before, we passed a very large water moccasin floating high on the surface, eyeing us as we passed.  The water was full of tannins and almost as dark as the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis.  The water temperature was also in the 50s.  So swimming was not in the cards as far as I was concerned.

We called all the places in the Cruising Guide, but no luck.  We stopped at Dowry Creek Marina for gas, and to ask what might be around.  The folks there were very nice and sympathetic.  They let us have some space by the gas dock in shallow water and told us stories of river diving and searching for lost anchors.

Well, I figured the only way to get us moving again was to recreate the come-along, but do it underwater.  I still had the tow strap and most of the parts on board.  I have a SCUBA tank, but no air, so it would be done via holding my breath.

It took a dozen or more trips to get a strap around the rudder, then a few more to get the other strap to the bow pulpit.  Unfortunately the strap to the bow was too short.  I needed something that would not stretch.  The only thing usable was the main sheet, which was Dyneema.  So I cut off about 20 feet of the $3 a foot line added to the strap.

Fortunately it was clam and sunny, so I could work with some visibility.  And the tannins weren't as bad as summer water in Annapolis.  My head and ankles ached from the cold water.

I alternated cranking on the come-along, and diving to check the space above the rudder.  I repeated this many times and finally got a point I hoped the rudder would still have some space after it bounced back when the pressure was released.  I let the metal rest, before I released the pressure.

It mostly worked.  But the space was too narrow.  So I repeated the cranking and diving routine again.  This time it worked and the spacing was fine.

Cold and dark, but got it done...

The winds, clouds and cold rushed in about 11:30 and I worked faster to get it done.  By 12:30 I was dressed and we were on our way, thanking the marina staff as we left.

At 1pm, when we crossed the Pamlico River, the waves were about 3 feet and the winds were in the 20s, gusting to 30.  We were flying along at 8 to 8.5 knots.

We entered the cut and Bonnie read in the "Managing the Waterway" guide by Mark Doyle that the R. E Mayo company sold great seafood.  So we stopped there about 4:30pm.  They had the seafood in large refrigerated rooms, and also had a huge marine parts store that sold an incredible variety of hardware for commercial fishing vessels.

We purchased shrimp, flounder, and scallops from them.  I also got some unique fishing gear I have never seen before.  We asked about spending the night as I was pretty exhausted from the rudder work.  They charged 40 cents a foot for the night.  Quite a deal.

Bonnie made steamed shrimp, basmati rice and wedge salad for dinner. We watched a movie Tyler downloaded for us months ago, and were in bed by 9:30.  I slept like a log.

Broad Creek to Pungo River Anchorage

ICW 61 - 127

We were up at 6am and on the move before 7am.  There was a beautiful sunrise as the fog burned off.  It was clam with clear skies, but pretty cold.

Desert Star in the fog


We crossed the sound with no problem and entered the Alligator River.  The swing bridge was timed almost perfect.  The channel makes a lazy S curve, but the area is quite deep.  So we motored straight across to the entrance to the cut.  The winds picked up a bit and we were able to motor sail.

In the river we saw an upside down floating tree.  The root ball was partially above the water, although the water was 11 feet deep.  That and the occasional crab pots keep us alert and watching our path with interest.

Our friends on Windward, staying in the channel, at marker 35 hit sometime hard.  Guess its no better in the channel.  Fortunately they had no damage from it.

We entered the cut and were careful to stay in deep water.  The tree stumps lining the banks were a good reminder. But about 3/4 of the way down the cut, in 12 feet of water, we bumped across the top of something hard.  The starboard keel bumped, then, before I was throttled back fully, the rudder hit.  It was just enough to bend the rudder post back enough to hit the hull, and make steering almost impossible.  Crap!

We limped down the rest of the cut, steering with the engines and only when needed, the rudder.  We entered the Pungo River Anchorage about 4:30.

On the bright side, the lobster soup Bonnie was making in the solar oven looked pretty good.  So we invited Ian and Lynn for dinner and tried not to be too glum.

We lost a bit of sleep worrying about the boat, and I ran a lot of options through my head.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Great Bridge Lock to Broad Creek

We got a somewhat lazy start in the morning.  We got up about 6:30am and I thought I would replace the spark plugs on the port outboard as it was acting up periodically yesterday.  With my zero engine knowledge I deduced it was from the spark plugs. I pulled out my spare parts box for the engines, where I have a dozen or more spark plugs.  Oddly, none were the right size.  Apparently some where for the Honda generators, some for the old Honda outboard, some for the old Merc outboard, and the new ones were for perhaps the old engines on the boat, or I bought the wrong ones.  Who knows.  So I used a wire brush on the existing ones and they seems happier today.  And I have no spark plugs for the PDQ's Yamaha's engines or the new Tohatsu on the dink - silly me.

We followed our new friends on Windward through the 8am opening at Great Bridge, and down the ICW.  It was a beautiful day and we made good progress.  We followed Windward's lead and timed all the bridges well.  Winds were from the east at 10-12 kts. I had the jenny up for about 20 minutes on one stretch of the channel when the wind direction was good for a little boost.

The view during much of the day


We anchored with Windward at Broad Creek anchorage and joined them for a happy hour.

Just before sunset in Broad Creek


Bonnie made Crab Chowder in the solar oven during the day and we enjoyed it for dinner.

The solar oven doing its job

Cape Charles to Great Bridge

We returned Dora's car, which she kindly loaned to us for almost a week while we are in Cape Charles while awaiting the Nor'easter to pass.  We said our goodbyes and Mike dropped us back at the harbor.  We went by the fuel dock and filled up with 60 gallons of ethanol free gas for the boat.  Bonnie also filled the water tank, as our hose was too short to reach the working spigot on the floating dock.

The winds were about 10 kts from the East and we motored sailed down the bay to Norfolk.  We passed the Route 64 Bridge/Tunnel, Tyler's college (ODU), the Navy base where they were working on the Enterprise, Eisenhower, and Abraham Lincoln.  I think they are all to be decommissioned.

Route 64 Bridge/Tunnel
Old Carriers in Norfolk

There was a good bit of commercial traffic and a line of about 10 cruising boats heading to the ICW.  The power boats always seem to miss seeing the no wake signs.  A power cat running down past a Navy dry dock got quite a surprise when the patrol boat pulled out in front of him, waving him down.  Too bad they did not want to be bothered with detaining him.

We sent a text message to Tyler, but he was working so could not come wave as we passed.  We did get to see him in Cape Charles though, which was very nice.

Nauticus in Norfolk

We re-re-re-discussed whether to take the dismal swamp canal or not.  We ended up deciding on Route 1, the main ICW route.  We went about 12 miles into the ICW, to the Great Bridge Lock, and Bonnie got to experience her first Lock.  I think the water only lowered about 4".

Great Bridge Lock


Just after the lock we tied up at the visitors center next to the boat we chatted with in the Lock.  Ian and Lynn were wonderful people, living on their Fuji 45.  They came over drinks and appetizers - which ended up being dinner for Bonnie and I.

Night at the Visitors Center

I made a valiant attempt to fix the leak in the pump handle of the head, but only succeeded in making it worse. I guess I need to get a rebuild kit for it.

We ran the generator and had heat all night.  That was great, except that I had to refill it at 2am.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reedville to Cape Charles

We got up at sunrise and set out for Cape Charles.  It was much calmer and the wind was 10 kts from the NW.  We motor sailed the six hours to Cape Charles.  There was a good bit of ship traffic and I enjoyed playing with the AIS feature on the new Standard Horizon 2150.

We bought a white one, but I don't have a photo of it.
At one point we were crossing the channel from west to east, with ships both north and south bound.  I hailed them by name on channel 13, and from the AIS data knew to avoid crossing until two of the three passed.

I didn't take any photos, but will get one of the boat in the slip in Cape Charles on the next post.

We arrived in Cape Charles about 1:30pm and got settled in on the floating dock in the harbor.

We spent the evening with Dora and Mike at a pre-election party.  The food and company were great!

I did not start the heater before we left for the party.  It took about an hour for the boat to warm up.  Bonnie filed another formal complaint.  I'm starting a trend here...

Back to work tomorrow, just in time for a Nor'easter. We're planning on taking the long weekend to start again for North Carolina down the ICW.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Leaving Annapolis

We left Annapolis about 8:30am. A bit later than expected. Winds were moderate from the northwest and I figured we'd get a good run in before the winds slowed. At least that was what the forecast said.

We took the last load down to the boat and hugged the dogs. Hopefully Casey will give them lots of attention while we are gone.

It was pretty chilly and Bonnie made some great Cappuccino for us.

The wind started out about 15-17 kts with gusts into the 20s. By early afternoon it was 25-28 with gusts to 32. That was not in the forecast.

The seas were pretty high, but it was manageable. They were mostly from behind and to starboard slightly. We did some nice surfing down waves, hitting 13 kts at times.

At the mouth of the Potomac it got a bit crazy. Crossing seas created some chaotic and large waves.

Bonnie wasn't too happy with all that and filed an official complaint. I was getting tired as well from constantly adjusting to surf waves. My desire for surfing was certainly fulfilled for a while.

We ducked into the Little Wicomico and found a shallow spot near the trees to anchor for the night. We were in bed by 8:00pm. The heater was running and we were warm and cozy!
Nice Speed but rough...
Bonnie all bundled up and chatting on the phone.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Luke's Geo-Buddy Goes for a Ride


Dear Luke:
Your friends the Syverson’s mailed me to Annapolis Maryland this past week.

Arrived at 1413 Ellis Road, Annapolis, MD
(Oct 31, 2012) I arrived just in time for Hurricane Sandy, where I spent the storm on a sailboat in the harbor.  The winds got up to 60 miles per hour.  The boat almost sank, but neighbors came and bailed the boat out.

It was scary on the boat.  The waves were big and the wind was very strong.  We had 12" of rain over three days.

 (Nov 1, 2012) Last night I attended a party at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum (at Dulles Airport) to celebrate the Space Shuttle Discovery moving to Virginia.  There was great food and a big party.
Bonnie took me to the Air and Space Museum for a party.

The Shuttle Discovery is the newest exhibit at the Air and Space Museum.
On Saturday, Nov 3rd, the Epstein’s are taking me south with them on their sailboat.  They plan to sail down the east coast to Florida in November, and then across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas in January.


Tomorrow I leave on this boat.  I'm tucked away in Eric's backpack.

You can follow their trip (and mine) here at http://desertstarpdq36.blogspot.com

They promise to mail me back to you in December.

There is a lot happening on the East Coast.


Sincerely,
Your Geo-Buddy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Survived Sandy with no damage

Fortunately we survived Hurricane Sandy with no damage.  We did a good job preparing the boats and they came through fine.  I think gusts reached 60 kts on Fishing Creek.  They were 44 kts while I was on the boat in the late afternoon.

The power went out from 5pm to about noon the next day.  It was the fastest we have seen BGE repair an outage.  Usually we are out of power 5-7 days.

Two boats broke loose from their mooring balls and ended up against a bulkhead nearby.  Four of us pulled them off and put them back on their moorings.  One is pretty much a total loss.  The other just got banged up a bit.

Here is a compiled video of the 24 hours along with some flooding photos.


Below are photos of tree damage in the neighborhood.

Brooke's Old House

A house in Arundel on the Bay

Another view of it

This tree had a huge root ball

The two wayward boats before we recovered them

A tree across the road

There were others, but you get the idea.  They will be cleaning up for a while.  But its nothing like the Northeast got.


Long Beach Island, where I grew up, was hit very hard by the storm.  Below are links to videos of the damage.  In the first video, the fire truck passes by my grandmothers old house where she lived in the 1960s and 70s.


Monday, October 29, 2012

On the Edge of Sandy

We still have a few hours until Sandy gets to its closet point to the Chesapeake Bay.  Winds so far are in the 30's with gusts to 50 kts.

video

The rain is in bands and is pretty strong.  Amazingly, we still have power here in Oyster Harbor.  The worst is yet to come.  Probably between 4pm and 2am.  We are watching a strong band heading our way that will be here about 4.

Here is a view from the cockpit of the boat.

video

The new mooring is getting a good test.  Our old one was great, but was 11 years old and the chain was near the end of its life.  This one is a 400lb mushroom with 30' of chain.

video


A view from the dink.  The rain can really hurt.  It reminded me of the fun we had during Hurricane Irene.

video

I'll try to get some more video.  Hopefully the worst will pass before it gets dark - but probably not.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Preparing for Sandy

We hoped we'd make it through the season with no hurricanes visiting Annapolis.  But it looks like we may not be so lucky.

Sandy is an odd storm with a combined occluded front from two weather systems coming from the west.  The media has named it Frankenstorm.  It has created a Nor'easter which started hitting the Bay three days ahead of Sandy - which right now just crossed into North Carolina (about 120 miles offshore).

Forecasters say it'll turn west and head to southern or mid New Jersey and bring huge storm surges to the north side (Sandy Point, NJ to Maine).   We'll be lucky on the south side to have only high winds and some rain.  The wind should drive water south in the Bay and leave us without any major flooding.

The Nor'easter before Hurricane Sandy 
Our friends in Cape Charles, VA may not be so lucky.  Down there, on the Eastern Shore, they can expect winds to drive water into their little harbor and perhaps cause some serious flooding.  We hope they will be fine, especially since we plan to be there Nov 6th to vote.

We spent yesterday and today prepping the boat for the storm, and also adding things for the trip south. The boat is looking great.  I can't wait to be on it, if only for short increments of time as we take it south, and as a winter home.

Bonnie added a chest freezer yesterday which sits in place of the table.  It looks like an ottoman, which I experimented with in April, but Bonnie nixed.  This time it was her idea.  The salon looks much more open.

I'll be checking on the boat throughout today and tomorrow. I also have to check the community docks as I am the volunteer Piers and Harbor chairman/harbor master.

More to follow on the storm and I'll try to get some good video.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stern Bag

Last year at the boat show we ordered a new dinghy for our PDQ 36.  The old dinghy is now in Cape Charles and relegated to runs to the barrier islands to collect shells.  It leaks and the engine is on its last legs.

The new dink is an AB 9'6" with an aluminum hull.  Its only 85 pounds, and although a tight a fit, I figured it would work.  As we were buying the Cadillac of dinks, why not get a great motor too. So we got a 15 hp with electric start.  ..one problem...

The dink and motor together make it too long to be lifted on the davits. Crap!

To make a long story short, Bonnie has a great stainless company that fabricates items for her kitchen design company. After a couple experiments with gas pipe, I had a good design.  We put in two extensions on the davits that would shift the dink 18" back.

Gas pipes bolted to the davits for the test.

It shifts the weight back slightly on the boat, and adds stress to the davits.  But so far it looks like its not going to torque the davits enough to do any damage.  The new dink with the larger four-stroke engine is actually about 30 - 40 pounds lighter than the old fiberglass one with a two-stroke.  For offshore passages we'll certainly take the outboard off.

The big deal for me, is really the space that this change created. There is now 18" of space between the dink and the boat.  Bonnie and I had some ideas of what to do.  Perhaps mount a cooler or something like that.

I was talking to Charlie, a friend who happens to run the local Quantum sail loft warrioryachting.com in Annapolis, and devised a canvas stern bag for storing life jackets, enclosure canvas, and similar light items.  It measured out at 92" wide, 18" deep and 22" high.  That's about 36,000 cubic inches of new storage space on the boat.  Wow!

Stern bag in place

It fits on the lifeline between the hulls.  I supported the back with dymeena at first, but decided to use a 7/8" length of steel tubing meant for a bimini or such. I strung the dymeena through it to add support in case someone ever tries to stand on it.

It fit and did not take much effort to mount it. I grabbed all the light items; life jackets, ditch bag (not so light), four large fenders, enclosure canvas, and seat cushions.  I'll also stick a fishing rod in there I'm sure.  Amazingly, with all that, its still only half full.

Dinghy on davits with bag in place.  It actually worked!
So the last test was lifting the dinghy.  It sits nicely against the bag, and reduces the banging of the boat as it shifts.  Success!

The only thing I would change is that the lip on the cover does not have a slot for the life line to fit through.  I'll ask Charlie about ideas for that.

Another successful project... Almost like a trend...


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Putting up the Cockpit Enclosure

When we purchased the boat in 2008, it had a full set of canvas for the hard top.  Panels were at different levels of age and condition.  A couple were moldy and opaque.

I went to a canvas shop for pricing and got prices from $5000 to $6500 for a full enclosure.  So Bonnie and I decided to make due with what we had, and possibly just buy a new from windshield section as two of the three panels were the worst and we could not see from the helm.

At the SSCA Annapolis GAM we came across the owner of Eisen Shine (http://eisenshine.com/) , a year old company that cleans Eisenglass.  He offered a great price to see what he could do.  So I dropped off the canvas Sunday morning.  It took him a few hours, but he got is all clean and it looks great.

Amazingly he was able to clean the worst four panels to almost like new.  They have the slightest yellow tint compared to the newer ones.  The newer ones were bad as well, and they all look like they have never been used.

I attached some photos.

The left panel was yellow and partially opaque.  Now it is perfectly clear.

The left most panel in this photo was also almost opaque.  Now it has only a slight tint of yellow.

The back panels had creases and a white haze.  Now it removed.
Another successful project.  Perhaps we are on a roll...

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Trampoline

I had thought I could get another year out of our old Trampoline.  But on the Labor Day trip I stepped down hard on it and a tear started along the rope bolt, almost sending my deck show into the Chesapeake Bay.

Old trampoline with tear and temp patch just port of center.


I patched it up as best I could, and back at home quickly started researching where to buy a new one.

Temporary Repair


On the PDQForum I found that many owners had good luck with Sunrise Yacht Products (http://www.multihullnets.com/).  They do custom trampolines and lots of other stuff for boats.

I found the site, filled out their online quote request, and received a quote back from them the same day.  I had a great chat on the phone with Richard about options - which helped me decide what I wanted.  He sent me a drawing of what he had on PDQ's and I took the drawing to the boat to verify the measurements.

Our PDQ was a little different in measurements,as PDQs went through a lot of changes over the years. So I noted those and took some photos, which I uploaded to Picasa so Richard could see them.  Tramp measurements uploaded to Picasa
 
We received the trampoline in about two weeks.

Because is wife is very efficient at all things sewing, and I had a good idea to remove the old trampoline only partially - with the new one laying on top, the install only took about two hours.

Laying new tramp over the old one
The old tramp had rope bolts all round, with adjustments via grommets down the center and along the front.  The new one was much better thought out, with only a single rope bolt in the back, and using sail track slides on the other three sides.

Sail slides replace bolt ropes on three sides
We did a preliminary, but loose run of line down each side.  We purchased the Spectra line that does not stretch, so we gave ourselves a nice advantage in adjustments down the line.  Once we had the lines run, we tightened it across the front (opposite of the rope bolt) then down both sides.  It was about perfect.  We walked on it, ate Chinese food on it watching the sunset and then looked at where we needed adjustments.

Another 20 minutes of adjusting and we were done.

Almost completed trampoline.  
I sent the above photo to Richard with a thank you note.  He looked it over closely and sent back some advice on tying the back corners.

It was nice to have a successful project done.  Only a few more large projects to get done before November 1.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

St Michaels for Labor Day and Additions to the Todo List

One way to judge a successful sailing trip is when nothing new is broken when you return.  We I can't say that for this trip, but we had a great time none the less.

SRYC boats headed out for the east side of the Bay on Friday.  Coming up the Bay was a submarine heading for Parents Weekend at the Naval Academy.  It had its own 110' Coast Guard cutter following it.  Not something you see everyday.

Submarine heading up the Chesapeake Bay


Bonnie was her typical busy self, making solar lights as we motor-sailed across the bay.

Bonnie making the netting for a solar light
I didn't keep track of how many she made, but its probably is not going to be enough to make a dent in the pre-Christmas sales she'll have.

A completed solar light


We met the club boats in Shaw Bay and enjoyed a fun, progressive-style dinner across three rafts of boats.  At least that was the plan.  As I was running around the boat to clean things up a bit, as Bonnie was aptly designated the lead in dessert raft up, I heard a tearing sound along the back side of the trampoline.  Bummer.  I thought that would last another season.  I guess not.

I ran some lines on the underside of the trampoline to support it, in case someone accidentally stepped out onto it.  I checked it out and felt it was pretty secure.  But, it wasn't needed, as many of the group had consumed too much alcohol between the appetizer boats and the entree boats. They were more than happy for us to bring the desserts to them.  So, no risk of loosing anyone through the trampoline, and no clean up the next day - Yay!

We had a nice time, and as one of those who drinks the least, I was the designated dinghy driver to get everyone back to their boats.

It was pretty humid so we ran the generator and had air conditioning all night.  It was very nice!

The next day we headed to St Michaels, which was only about 45 minutes away.  We anchored in our usual spot, which is a shallow area about 4 feet deep at low tide.  Its behind (to the SE of) most of the boats and we usually don't get many boat anchoring too closely.  St Michaels can be a zoo on a holiday weekend, and it was true to form this weekend.  We counted about 70 anchor lights in the outer area off the harbor, and another 50 more in the coves and by the Maritime Museum.  We had the dinghys running about, the water taxi doing constant runs, the occasional Waterman, not happy with tourists, running his boat through the anchorage producing the biggest wake he could, and many a motor yacht coming it at 20+ miles per hour right up to the no wake buoy.

Saturday was Bonnie's day of events.  She was the planner for two events - dinner and the after dinner party. Skip and Judith were kind enough to let us tie our dinghy to the stern of their boat, so we did not have to tie up at one of the overcrowded dinghy docks.  It also made shuttling food for the parties easier.

We had lunch with our very dear friend Mark, who owns the town winery, and then he and I went to work on his 1974 Porche he is converting into an electric car.  It was very cool, although he has a lot of work to do before the car show he is entered in later this month.  We ran some of the wiring and got a little bit more done, but mostly we chatted and caught up on things since last we saw each other. Bonnie did some shopping in town and we met up in time to get showers on the boat before she had to prep for the dinner portion.

She set up the dinner at the Town Dock Restaurant.  It was a really good buffet, and the food was perfect.  In our minds, that is one of the best restaurants in the town, and the town has many good ones. 

Bonnie had the Town Dock Restaurant deliver the desserts to St Michael's Winery, where she arranged for Rich to be the DJ, and more food, cheeses, and wine waited for us.  The staff at the winery are great.  We met a couple of the new staff and immediately clicked like old friends.

It was the first party that involved dancing in the new winery location.  We all had a great time, and the staff danced with us.  We staggered back to the dinghy about 11, with a thunderstorm passing nearby and rain falling on us.  Back on the boat, we sat under the hardtop and watched the storm pass while enjoying the cool breeze.  We (I) still opted for air conditioning that night as is was so humid.

Sunday we spent much of the day with Mark, touring his new production facility in Federalsburg, MD. It was so nice to see how he is expanding and listen to all of his ideas.  He has quite a great vision, and I know the winery will continue to grow and be very successful.

Sunday night we had a happy hour, turned dinner, on Skip and Judith's 76 footer.  It was a great time with about 70 people.

Peggy brought her Ukulele with her and gave Bonnie a lesson.  They spent an hour or so on the bow and then as people migrated out there it turned into Bonnie's first performance.

video
It was a great time, as usual, and we left about 9 to head back to the boat.  We were expecting a storm, but it never came.  We went to bed, with the wonderful air conditioning again, and slept great.

In the morning we packed up and headed for home.  A big thunderstorm followed us and we did not quite make it home when it hit.  Bonnie was on the bow grabbing the mooring in 20+ knots of wind and heavy rain.  She is a Trooper!

On the way home the starboard engine was not pumping water the way it should.  I don't really have the time to tear it apart, so I'll probably pay someone to look at it.

I'll be ordering a new trampoline this week.  And I need to determine what instruments I want to change before we go south.  With the wind meter mostly dead, I think that replacing it, and getting a new depth sounder and probably a second, better autopilot are in order.  It'll be pricey, but necessary.