Monday, June 25, 2018

Update

Since I last posted we sailed down the Chesapeake from the Chester River to the Rhode River on the western shore; then further down the Chesapeake to the Little Choptank River. When we were deciding when to travel from the Rhode River to the Little Choptank we had two options. If we left on Friday we would have lots of wind and could sail, but the conditions might be a little crazy. If we left on Saturday we would have very little wind and the conditions would be calm, but we would have to motor. Since the trip was 37 miles and we had already done so much motoring recently, we opted to leave on Friday. It was indeed windy (in the 20’s) and the water was choppy. We raised the mainsail with 2 reefs while we were still in the West River. We expected the conditions to get even worse once we entered the bay. Shortly after we raised the mainsail George spotted a large pod of dolphins!  How cool!  We weren’t able to get any photos but we did enjoy having them play with us until we had to gybe. We had a lot of wind and some light rain all morning. The temperatures were in the 70’s and we were actually cold for the first time in several days. We discussed putting the enclosure panels up but decided not to bother. We were hoping the rain wouldn’t get any worse. The wind chop on the water made for a bumpy ride and I would start to feel queasy whenever I went down into the cabin. I didn’t relish the idea of going down below to get the panels or even to get my phone to check the radar. Big mistake. Just before we passed the Choptank River the skies opened up with heavy rain. George was driving the boat and got soaked through his foul weather jacket - the entire cockpit was wet. The visibility was very poor and we didn’t see two ships approaching from behind and one approaching in front of us. One of the ships hailed us by name on the VHF radio and asked us to switch to channel 13. Once we switched to channel 13, George attempted to communicate with the ship but another boat (George thought it was another sailboat) kept talking over him.  It is very unusual for ships to hail us so we assumed they wanted us to change course but we had to be able to talk to him to make sure. Eventually the other boat stopped talking and the cargo ship hailed us again. George answered and the ship asked us to turn west. We did but that put us directly in the path of one of the ships approaching from behind. We kept going west (even though it was away from where we wanted to go) and the ship was only a mile away when we were finally clear of its path. Phew! The problem was that the three ships and Breeze On all converged in the same spot at the same time. Because the ships have to stay in the deeper water of the channel they didn’t have many options to avoid us so we had to alter our course. We would normally be on top of ships approaching by looking at their AIS on our chart plotter. The heavy rain and wet conditions made that difficult so we didn’t stay on top of that. We had a very tense few minutes but learned a few things from it. We should check the radar frequently, put the enclosure panels up sooner rather than later, and definitely stay on top of the ship traffic on the Chesapeake. Once we made it to the Little Choptank and anchored on Hudson Creek we enjoyed some nice, hot chowder for dinner. 
On Saturday we motored a few miles over to McKeil point to anchor near the house of Bob and Cathy, who were hosting the June CYC/Cambridge Power Squadron rendezvous. Fred and Ruth Ann on Shooting Star as well as Sue and Gord on Unity also anchored nearby. The rest of the folks came by car. Bob and Cathy’s house and yard are really lovely. Those of us who came by boat enjoyed a swim in their pool before the others came. There was a ton of food and we had a great time. In the morning the boaters, as well as a few others, came back to Bob and Cathy’s for breakfast. 
Yesterday morning the crews of Breeze On, Shooting Star and Unity motored over to San Domingo Creek. After anchoring and going for a quick swim we all dinghied in to St. Michaels to have dinner at Awful Arthur’s.  Jim and Kara on Second Wind were also at San Domingo Creek. They snapped photos of Breeze On at sunrise before they left to sail home. The conditions are great for sailing today so we have decided to sail over to the Tred Avon River and anchor out one more night before we head for home. 



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Happy Anniversary

George and I celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary yesterday with dinner at Doc’s Riverside Grille in Centreville. It was a good plan b after we gave up on being anchored in the current at Chestertown. Yesterday was another hot day so we spent a lot of it doing as little as possible so as not to work up a sweat. We had moved farther up the Corsica River closer to the wharf in Centreville. We anchored in yet another very pretty and peaceful anchorage on the Corsica River. We watched a line of thunderstorms march past just to the south of us in the afternoon. The weather cleared just in time for dinner. As we dinghied to the wharf we passed by the house of the owner of the Baltimore Ravens. George had read that he has a house nearby and that he sometimes has his huge yacht docked there.  The yacht wasn’t there but we are pretty sure we picked out the right house. It was the only one with a dock large enough to accommodate his yacht. We once saw the yacht in Cambridge. He brought it to the Hyatt in Cambridge for his daughter’s wedding. The Hyatt is just past the Choptank River bridge which has an air clearance of 50 feet. The captain had to wait for low tide in order to get the motor yacht under the bridge to the Hyatt. 
This morning we motored down the Corsica River then crossed the Chester River to Langford Creek. Along the way we picked out the closed Russian Embassy Retreat at the mouth of the Corsica River. George had read on Active Captain that it was somewhere around there and confirmed its location on Google Maps. The retreat (a very large brick house) was mostly hidden behind trees (no surprise there). We stopped at Langford Bay Marina for fuel and water before we anchored. We have motored every day for the past four days so we wanted to top off the fuel while we had the opportunity. We aren’t using the water maker in the Chesapeake so it made sense to fill the water tank, too. We actually could use the water maker if we had another pre-filter. Since we are never far from civilization around here it doesn’t seem worth it. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

New Territory

We took advantage of a few weeks without commitments and set off yesterday morning for new territory. Our plan was to go up the Chester River to Chestertown. We planned to spend two nights there and celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary at a restaurant in town. We had visited Chestertown five years ago when we were searching for a community on the Chesapeake. We loved Chestertown but decided it was too far up the river (24 miles) for our tastes. Most sailors who live in Chestertown keep their boats in Rock Hall, a 12 miles trip by car. We had heard that the Chester River was pretty and worth seeing. However, it is narrow and winding so we would have to motor up the river. 
There was no wind yesterday so we motored the entire day. Our sweet daughter called George to wish him a happy Father’s Day. Later in the day the wind picked up enough that we could motor sail. It seems that we always manage to be out sailing during the hottest week of the season. This year is no exception. The temperatures reached 90 degrees both yesterday and today. 
After we reached the Chester River we turned into the Corsica River and anchored in one of the numerous anchorages there. It is a really pretty spot. First thing after breakfast this morning we put the dinghy together on the deck. We wanted to get it done before it got any hotter. Then we raised the anchor (after replacing the blown windlass fuse) and motored up the Chester River to Chestertown. The river is indeed narrow and winding with a very narrow channel. The current in the river really rips but, fortunately, it was a favorable current and gave us a boost of around one knot. We arrived shortly after noon and anchored opposite Chestertown Marina. We recalled that the marina was under construction five years ago and it appeared to still be under construction. The tide turned shortly after we dropped anchor. The wind had also picked up and was opposing the tide. Breeze On is not happy in those conditions. If the wind is light she will point in the direction of the current. If the wind is really strong she will point into the wind. In this case the wind was just strong enough to cause her to keep turning 180 degrees and then back again. The anchor and chain would end up under the boat and tap, tap, tap on the bottom. From the v-berth (where we sleep) the tap, tap, tap sounds more like bang, bang bang. We knew we wouldn’t sleep very well in those conditions so we made the executive decision to dinghy to shore, walk around town and get some ice cream (if we were lucky). Then we would return to Breeze On, raise the anchor, motor back down the Chester River and anchor again in the Corsica River. While we were in town we did score some ice cream in a cute coffee shop. We also bought some BLT and avocado sandwiches to take back to the boat for supper. Our quick walk around town confirmed our first impression of Chestertown. It has a lot of lovely, historic buildings and cute shops. Although we like the town very much we are glad we chose to live in Cambridge instead. Our anniversary is tomorrow and our new plan is to anchor farther up the Corsica River and dinghy into Centreville for dinner. It is always good to be flexible!
The cell service is poor here so I can’t include photos. I will post them later. 

 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Back on the Boat

A few weeks ago we went out for a sail with the intention of spending the night at anchor at Trippe Creek, one of favorite anchorages on the Chesapeake. We had a nice sail and had just finished dropping the anchor when I received a tornado watch alert on my phone. We knew there was a chance of thunderstorms and were willing to take that risk. Tornadoes were a different story, especially when we were just over 3 hours from home. So, we pulled up the anchor and motor-sailed home, arriving just before dark. 
Yesterday we set out again with a plan to anchor out for a few days. It was gorgeous day and we set sail for Hudson Creek on the Little Choptank River. We dropped the anchor and had the entire anchorage to ourselves, with the exception of a pair of osprey and a bald eagle. I used our new Omnia Stovetop Oven to make a chicken, rice and vegetable casserole. It worked really well and the casserole was quite tasty. As we were getting ready for bed the mosquitoes started to swarm inside the cabin. We quickly put the screens in the port lights and on the companionway. It gave us a chance to use our new screen door. I had purchased one of the magnetic screen doors that I had seen advertised. They have Velcro on the outer edges and magnets in the middle. The idea is that you just walk through the door and the magnets separate, then reattach themselves. Since the companionway has a horizontal as well as a vertical surface, George was skeptical that the magnets would hold. I thought it was worth a try. Several days ago while we were at home we attached the adhesive-backed Velcro to the companionway. I then removed the binding and Velcro from the sides of the screen door, cut the door to fit, then reattached the binding and Velcro. When we tried it last night it worked like a charm. 
After George killed all of the mosquitoes inside the cabin we slept very well until a waterman woke us sometime before dawn. He started his trot line right off of our bow. We don’t like to complain since catching crabs and oyesters is how the watermen make their living. We are in their way so we consider it part of the experience of anchoring on the Chesapeake. 






Friday, May 4, 2018

Best of Both Worlds

We arrived home two weeks ago. As I checked the blog this afternoon I saw that the post I thought I had written about arriving home was not here. Another mystery. 
Since we have been home we have both enjoyed long, hot showers, and using the dishwasher and the washing machine.  I appreciate how much easier it is to cook in our kitchen than on the boat. I am sewing again and George is catching up on paperwork. We have resumed our daily three mile walks and trips to the gym at the YMCA three times a week. We have been reconnecting with friends in town. Spending the winter in the Bahamas and then returning home is the best of both worlds. 
The weather seemed cold for us here until just a few days ago. Our friends tell us the cool spring was nothing compared to the miserable winter they had here. It makes us appreciate the Bahamas that much more. Although the temperatures were cool here the spring flowers have been beautiful. 
Yesterday we went for our first day sail since we returned home. It was a gorgeous afternoon on the water and the wind was just right. We invited friends to join us and had a great time. After we returned home I tried out my new Omnia stove-top oven on the galley stove. The Omnia is not supposed to work well on our induction stove in the condo so I decided to cook on the boat. The crustless quiche took just 20 minutes and was delicious. I think we will enjoy using it to bake on the boat. 
George and I each have lists of projects we want to complete before the fall. I think we will still have plenty of time to go sailing on the Chesapeake. I just finished “bags” that will hold our folded clothes on the v berth shelves. I am now working on clear vinyl zipper bags that will hold our medical kit items. 
George is doing well and feels like he is back to normal. He even climbed the mast the other day to fix a wind instrument.  I was tailing the safety line and was quite nervous. I distracted myself by watching the ducklings nearby. I am still nervous when he tries to push, pull or lift anything heavy. I am less fearful about returning to the Bahamas and having another medical crisis. I imagine that will continue to lessen as times goes by. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Almost Home

We left Norfolk at 5 am yesterday morning, hoping to sail 90 miles to Solomon’s. We were able to safely leave the dock, even though the west wind was pinning us against the dock. Once we left Little Creek and entered the Chesapeake Bay the winds were blowing at 20-25 knots and the 2-3 ft waves from the NE were right on the bow. We motored until the sun came up then raised the main sail with a double reef line. The waves had the boat pitching every which way and had caused the main halyard to get caught on a spreader. Before we raised the sail George put on his life jacket and tether and went up on deck to try to get it free. No luck. It appeared to me that the lazy jack line was holding the halyard to I suggested turning the boat so that the boom and lazy jack line would move and release the pressure on the halyard. Hooray, it worked!  The boat was moving slowly with just the main sail so we unfurled the jib, which left us heeling at 30 degrees and way overpowered. So, we furled the jib and motor-sailed with the reefed main. The conditions were just miserable. Breeze On was crashing down many of the steep waves. Slam! Slam!  Slam!  Some of the larger waves crashed over us. The air was cold and the tide was against us. We decided early on that we didn’t want to continue all day under those conditions so we searched for an anchorage. George chose an anchorage in Mobjack Bay on the western shore. The entrance to Mobjack was littered with crab pots buoys.  They were difficult to see due to the choppy water and salt water splattered on the windows. Somehow we managed to get to the anchorage without snagging one and dropped the anchor just before noon. It was discouraging to see how little progress we made since leaving the dock 7 hours before. After we anchored I turned the fresh water pump on and it started running. I turned it off and checked the faucets. They were all turned off so I knew we had a leak somewhere. George discovered a line in the shower had come loose even though it had been double-clamped. It must have been all of the slamming. We were SO grateful that we had remembered to turn the pump off before we left the marina (that is our practice but we don’t always remember). We never would have heard it running and emptying all of our fresh water into the bilge. It was a quick fix & we had water again. 
The weather forecast seems to change by the hour but one thing remains constant, a front bringing high winds is due to come through tomorrow. We want to be home before that arrives. So, we raised anchor at 7 am this morning and began a marathon motoring trip home. The trip is about 112 miles so we won’t get home until the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately the creek where we live is very well-lit at night so we shouldn’t have any problems with visibility. 
Although the wind started out on our nose this morning, at least it is light and the waves are small. The sun is shining and warming up the air inside the enclosed cockpit so we are keeping warm. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Brunswick to Norfolk

Our weather window finally arrived. We left Brunswick Landing before dawn on Thursday morning. The winds were light so we were motoring for several hours. After leaving Brunswick we headed east to catch the Gulf Stream and take advantage of the current. There were residual NE waves, leftover from the last front so we were slamming into them through the day and all night long. Neither one of us was able to sleep much. The wind eventually picked up enough the first night to turn the engine off and sail. By mid-morning on the second day the waves calmed down and the slamming stopped. George took advantage of the calmer conditions and transferred some diesel into the tank. 
Our plan was to take three and a half days to get into the Chesapeake Bay. Yet another cold front was expected Sunday and the timing was tight. We purchased a custom weather route from Chris Parker (weather guru) and he confirmed that we could make it. George plotted out waypoints that indicated where we should be every twelve hours. Our goal was to not fall behind. If it looked like we weren’t going to make it before the front arrived our plan B was to go to Beaufort, NC. If our speed dropped below six knots when we were sailing we would turn the engine on. We made the 580 nautical mile trip in 78.5 hours, averaging 7.4 knots. We motored for 39 hours. Not bad at all. The Gulf Stream helped with our speed, particularly toward the end. As we pulled into Cobb’s Marina at noon on Sunday it was just beginning to rain. 
Our friends, Jean and Michael on Desiderata, were here already and we went out to dinner together to catch up. 
We are planning to leave before dawn tomorrow and sail about 90 miles to Solomon’s, then on to Cambridge the next day. As much as we love Breeze On we are both looking forward to being home. 
Transferring diesel