Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On the Hard

Breeze On was recently hauled out of the water and is now "on the hard", as boaters say. George and I were pleased that all of the zincs that we could see looked good.

The bottom also looked good, with the exception of the lower end of the rudder. We weren't surprised.

There were a few times this season, during exceptionally low tides, when the rudder was stuck in the mud. The first time it happened after we returned from a sailing trip. We got everything packed up on the boat and were ready to leave. I tried to pull boat over closer to the finger pier but it wouldn't budge. It took us a while to figure out we were stuck. George was able to jump off but I was afraid I wouldn't make it. I stayed on the boat for about an hour while George went to borrow a passarelle (gang plank) for me to use.

We have had incredibly clear water in the Chesapeake Bay this fall. I have heard that the local watermen say it hasn't been this clear for decades. In many places you can see the bottom. We took the opportunity to look at the bottom in our slip. Not surprisingly, it slopes up quite a bit near the dock. We also checked the bottom of the slip at our condo, Breeze On's new home. The water is deep in the entire slip so we shouldn't get stuck on the bottom anymore. We did spot a shopping cart at the bottom of our slip so that will be coming out before Breeze On returns in the Spring.

 

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Season's Over

It is always a little bit sad when our sailing season ends and we put our boat away for the winter. We could have kept her in the water a few more weeks and enjoyed a day of sailing here and there. But, the holidays are coming soon and I am scheduled to have cataract surgery in a few days. I have been told that I shouldn't lift anything heavy for a week or two so it seemed wise to unload the boat and remove the sails before my surgery.

The winds were light and the temperatures relatively mild for the past few days so the conditions were good for removing the sails. After the jib and mainsail were tucked into the cabin we untied the dock lines, pulled out of our new slip and took Breeze On back to her old slip to await being winterized and hauled out.

We already miss seeing her in front of the condo. It was such a treat to be able to see her and work on her so easily.

Now, on to winter projects!

 

Removing Reef Line One

 

Removing the "cars" the hold the sail onto the mast
Reef Line Two
The Mainsail's Winter Home
Sails down, waiting to be hauled out

 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Breeze On is Home

Yesterday we went for our last sail of the season. When we were finished we docked Breeze On in her new slip, right in front of our condo building.

The TideSlides which enabled us to keep her in a slip that is 20 feet too short had finally been installed the day before.

 

I tried my best to be patient during the month the TideSlides sat in our storeroom floor waiting to be installed. I wasn't always successful. Anyway, I am so grateful to have them installed and have Breeze On in the slip that came with our condo. She won't be there for long. We spent today unloading food and linens in preparation for having her hauled out of the water for the winter. Since we have about a foot clearance between the boat and the dock, it was so easy to step onto and off the boat and to unload everything.

We love being able to see her from our windows and deck.

When we start sailing again in the Spring we will enjoy being able to have our guests meet at at our home before we take off. It will be so easy to have everything loaded and ready to go before we head out. I have wanted this since before we moved into this condo. I am so grateful that the TideSlides made it possible.

 
 

 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Humbling Experience

Since much of our sailing this season was limited to day sails or short cruises, I had a lot of practice leaving and returning to our slip. I was getting pretty good at it...until I wasn't.

We were returning from a few nights at anchor a few weeks ago. As we were approaching our slip the wind was in the high teens coming from the WNW. Those aren't the best conditions for our marina since it isn't protected from NW winds. As we were motoring down the creek I thought about how I could compensate for the wind and I believed I would be okay. I made my usual approach, turning to starboard, then backing toward the slip and turning the bow to starboard to line the stern up before backing in. I told myself not to turn the bow too much, or the wind would catch it and turn it too much. I also told myself not to back up too much or the wind would push me past the slip. Well, in spite of my efforts, the bow was pushed too much and the boat was pushed past the slip. No problem, I would just try again. This time the boat came too close to the pilings before I was lined up. On the third try I turned to port to make the approach. I have never approached from this direction because there is a wall on that side and I don't have as much room. However, by turning to port I would be able to back into the wind which is a better way to do it when there is a lot of breeze. I turned to port, backed toward the slip and again got pushed too close to the pilings before I could get turned and lined up.

It didn't help matters that I had an audience. Two of our dock mates were chatting and watching while we were going through our docking ordeal.

At one point I suggested that we dock the boat "bow in". Since we leave our dock lines on the dock and they are set up for "stern in", George was concerned that the dock lines wouldn't reach the cleats for the bow in configuration.

We made one more attempt from the starboard approach and then finally docked the boat from the port approach. It took a 1/2 hour and five attempts. I honestly thought I had made 10 attempts. It wasn't pretty and sure zapped my confidence in docking.

Here is a picture of our tracks.

 

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Better Way to Heat a Boat

Last Fall we tried an inexpensive way to heat Breeze On in during the cold evenings and mornings. It was less than effective. This year we wanted to try something else that would heat the boat more effectively and allow us to extend our season a bit longer. I read about the Mr. Heater Little Buddy propane heater on The Boat Galley blog. We tried our new Little Buddy this morning for the first time. When we woke up it was 51.9 degrees outside and 55.2 degrees inside. George fired up the Little Buddy and the inside temperature went up to 61.5 within a half-hour and 65.3 after an hour of use. Not bad. We are quite happy with our Little Buddy.

 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Solution to Our Too-Short Slip (we hope)

We love where we live. We love our town and our condo. The view from our condo is stunning and always interesting. Our condo also came with its own deep water slip. The only problem is that the slip is 23 feet long and our boat is 40 feet long.

Photo of our slip taken from our balcony

We have tried and tried to find a solution. George even talked to the Army Corps of Engineers to find out if we could add pilings to extend the slip. He was told that we couldn't since the slip is adjacent to a federal channel and turning basin. This issue actually has to do with dredging. If the channel were to be dredged in the future there needs to be a buffer zone. The law states that the width of the buffer zone has to be three times the depth of the channel and/or turning basin. Although Cambridge Creek hasn't been dredged in years and there are no plans to dredge it in the future it would require an actual act of congress to change the law. We briefly considering going for the act of congress but that would take years and lots of money in lawyer's fees.

My next plan involved widening the slip (the slip is barely wider than the boat) and adding a "med mooring". It is a type of mooring system frequently used in the Mediterranean. The stern of the boat is tied up perpendicular to a wall and the bow of the boat is secured to lines that are tied between the wall and an anchor submerged a few boat-lengths from the wall. Lately we thought about giving up on the idea of the med mooring and just widening the slip and parking the boat there only when the winds were very light. We got permission from the condo board and the owner of the slip adjacent to ours to move pilings into a "no-man's land" on a corner between our slip and the next one (on the left side of our slip in the photo.). We were all set to have the work done when our piling guy told George we needed to apply for a permit. It would take at least 3 months to get the permit. Arrrrggggghh!

Last week we went to the boat show in Annapolis and think we stumbled on a solution. We visited the TideSlide booth only because Mark Baluha had a cool display and we were curious about the system. A boat in a very narrow slip up the creek uses it. We described our situation to Mark and he said "no problem". The system would secure our boat in it's too-short slip very nicely. The system was actually designed to secure boats in hurricanes and has been successful for 16 years. Not a single boat using it has been damaged. The idea is that you tie your boat to slides that move up and down stainless steel poles that are mounted to the pilings.

Photos taken from TideSlide website
 

The lines are tied very snug and keep the boat from moving back and forth. It is actually better to have a smaller slip and shorter lines. We could add this system, save the time and money required to widen our slip and rest assured that our boat is secure. I am so psyched!!!

The other day we made our first attempt to back into our very small slip just to see if we could do it. There was no wind and we had friends on board to help if necessary. It was much easier than I imagined it would be.

We are now in the process of taking measurements so we can order the system and install it. We also plan to talk to the owner of the boat up the creek and ask how he installed it and how he likes it. I am hoping we can get it done before our season is over.

 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just Call Me Goldilocks

So, last week we didn't have enough wind to circumnavigate the DelMarVa peninsula. This week we have had too much. Too little, too much, but not just right.

Right now in Cambridge it is blowing in the mid-twenties and gusting into the thirties. This is what it looks like on Assateague Island, on the Atlantic side of the peninsula.

Here is the forecast.
Some more experienced sailors may be willing to set out I n these conditions but the reason we want to do this is to gain experience and confidence. I am already feeling very nervous about sailing in the dark and we don't think it would be a good idea to start our trip knowing it is going to be really windy. So, we won't be doing our circumnavigation this month. If we don't fit it in next month it will have to wait until next year.
 

 

 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What a Life!

When George and I set up our post-cancer sailing "schedule" we set aside two full weeks for our DelMarVa peninsula circumnavigation. The trip would take about a week but we scheduled two weeks so that we could work around unfavorable weather. Well, last week was the first week we had set aside and it looked as if there wasn't going to be enough wind to do any sailing at all, let alone around the DelMarVa peninsula. Then, on Tuesday as we were driving over the Choptank River after buying groceries, we saw that the wind had picked up. Even if the wind wasn't expected to last, we could at least get some sailing in. We drove home, quickly put the groceries away, packed up clothes and food for four days and set sail for the Tred Avon River.

We started off with wind just over ten knots and we were traveling at 6-7 knots. Then the wind started to drop and so did our speed. We calculated how long we could wait before turning the motor on and still get anchored before sunset. We arrived at our anchorage, Flatty Cove, just as the sun was setting. There was one boat anchored in the spot that would have been our first choice. We selected another spot, dropped the anchor, and...it didn't hold. Darn! George hauled it up and we tried again in a slightly different location. It still didn't hold. Grrrrrr. Now it was getting quite dark and we had a decision to make, try again on the other side of Flattty Cove or head to a larger anchorage, Trippe Creek, a mile and a half away. We decided on Trippe Creek. I put the engine in high gear and hammered down. There were already eight other boats anchored in Trippe Creek, but it is a large anchorage with plenty of room. Since it was almost dark by the time we got there and I don't have good depth perception at night, George drove to the spot where we wanted to anchor. I then took over at the wheel while he dropped the anchor. This time it held, phew!

Although there wasn't much wind, the weather was just gorgeous. Sunny, cool and low humidity. It was a very comfortable night. The next day was a very relaxing one. In the late afternoon we had our first raft-up with friends, Jim and Martha, who live nearby on the Tred Avon. They stayed for a few hours and we had a lot of fun. The sunset that evening was just stunning.

Jim and Martha heading for home on Quiet Times
Gorgeous Sunset at Trippe Creek
 

The next afternoon we decided to move back to Flatty Cove so that we would be close enough to dinghy into Oxford. We found a spot with good holding and then dinghied over to the hard-to-find free town dinghy dock. We walked over to the Scottish Highland Creamery for some delicious ice cream and then strolled around town. Oxford is a very charming little town, but extremely small. There weren't many people out and about. It seems like many of the residents are weekenders. It made us happy, once again, that we chose Cambridge as our home.

Scottish Highland Creamery
Scottish Highland Creamery

We returned to the boat and decided to try out our new Nettle Net Boat Pool. It was really easy to set up and worked like a charm. We were able to swim without being stung by sea nettles. One rather odd thing happens as the boat swings. The net kind of drags behind the boat and becomes one long, narrow lane rather than a circular pool. It doesn't bother me, though, because it still serves the purpose of keeping the nettles away. Since we expected to swim again the next day we hauled the Nettle Net up onto the swim platform and left it there after we finished swimming.

Nettle Net Before Deployment
Nettles outside the pool!

The next day we again dinghied to Oxford, ate ice cream, walked and went for a swim. What a life!

What a life!

 

George and I feel very fortunate that we enjoy a similar pace and similar activities when we are on the boat. We love being at anchor but enjoy getting off the boat if we are on it for more than a couple of days.

On our last day we waited for the wind to come up in the early afternoon before we began to sail home.

 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Harness Creek

About a month ago George and I sat down with our calendars to plan the sailing trips that we would take after my radiation ended. There were a few reasons for doing this; we wanted to make sure we blocked out the time to make some trips that each lasted a week or so, and I thought it might help me feel less depressed about losing so much of our sailing season to cancer treatment.

We took our first trip the day after treatment ended and had a wonderful time. We prepared to take the next one that was scheduled on the calendar but, once again, we weren't at all sure where we were headed. The winds were forecast to be light the entire week but we decided to not let that stop us. We spent our first night at Dun Cove. Since it was hot and humid we were sweaty after we anchored. We didn't attempt to swim, though, because there were a lot of sea nettles in the water. Atlantic sea nettles are a type of small jellyfish that live in the brackish water of the Chesapeake Bay. The sting is unpleasant (so I hear), but not deadly. Nevertheless, the threat of a sting is enough to keep us from going in the water.

Sea Nettles in Dun Cove

 

We took off early the next morning and decided to head north in the bay toward Annapolis. The wind was more favorable for sailing south, but since we had just been to the Little Choptank River and didn't have time to sail farther south than that, we went north. We tacked our way up and across the bay. All day we were plagued with biting, black flies, even when we were in the middle of the bay. It was difficult to focus on driving the boat when our legs and ankles were getting bitten. We took turns swatting at them and killed dozens of them by the end of the day. We swatted so many of them that we broke the fly swatter in a few places and had to repair it with duct tape. We used the autopilot quite a bit as we were sailing but, every 90 minutes or so, the navigation system would sound a loud alarm and the autopilot would quit. There would be no wind data available and the navigation screen had an error message that read, "No autopilot computer." We were able to get it going again by turning the power off to the navigation system and then turning it back on again. It happened three times during the course of the day. Hmmmm. We are definitely going to have to look into what that problem is all about.

Since it was Friday on a holiday weekend we believed our chances of getting a mooring ball in Annapolis Harbor were slim. We decided to try Harness creek on the South River. It is on the south side of Annapolis and abuts the Quiet Waters county park. There was plenty of room to anchor when we arrived late afternoon. We were delighted to find that there were no sea nettles in the water so we could swim to cool off!

 

The next day the anchorage began to fill up with motor boats. Many of them rafted together to party. The loudest party was anchored within a boat length of Breeze On. At one point I heard those partiers hooting and hollering. I looked up to see a very well-endowed young woman dancing with her bikini top off!

There didn't seem to be any sense of anchoring decorum. The boats just kept coming, dropping light-weight anchors attached to short ropes. If they dragged, they would just casually pick of the anchor and drop it in their new location. We didn't worry too much because the people were staying with their boats so at least they would know if they were about to hit another boat. Also, we assumed (rightly) that they would all clear out at the end of the day.

Breeze On is the only sailboat in the anchorage.
 

 

In spite of the chaos, we really enjoyed being anchored in Harness Creek. The lack of sea nettles and the ability to swim a few times a day was a huge plus. Also, we used the dinghy to go to Quiet Waters Park every day. It is a lovely park with miles of paved walking trails.

George walking in Quiet Waters Park
 
Quiet Waters Park
 

 

There is a West Marine, restaurants and other shops just outside the park. On our second day we walked over to the West Marine, to a hardware store to buy a new electronic fly swatter, and then had an early dinner at a nice restaurant we had been to before when visiting Annapolis. The new fly swatter turned out to be good insurance. We didn't have any bugs at all after we bought it - so it is still unproven technology (we also bought a traditional swatter just in case!).

 

When we first set out on this trip I had hoped that we could make it as far as the Chester River or the Sassafras River. However, the wind predictions for the days we would be returning were predicted to be very light. We knew we didn't want to be motoring the whole way home so we scrapped that idea. In the end, we decided to stay in Harness Creek for four days. In spite of the party atmosphere during the day, we really liked it there. We moved farther up the creek to a more family-oriented anchorage for the last two days, so that helped. We loved being able to swim in the water and walk in the park. We also enjoyed watching the people go by in the kayaks and stand up paddle boards that were available for rent in the park. We would definitely go back, but hope that the next time we go it will be during the week and not on a holiday weekend.

 

As it turned out, we had pretty good wind for our return trip across the bay. It was from the south so we had to tack the entire way, but we made good time. In fact, we chose to make the entire 55-mile trip home in one day rather than anchor out one more night. It was another hot day and we knew we wouldn't be able to swim at the end of the day due to the nettles on the Eastern Shore. The next item on our shopping list will be a nettle net. It will enable us to swim while keeping the nettles away from us.