Saturday, July 30, 2016

A New Way to Follow Breeze On

Breeze On now has AIS.

The Wikipedia definition of AIS is:

"The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites."

Breeze On has always had an AIS receiver as part of the VHF radio, so we could see the names and locations of ships and other boats on our chart plotter if they were transmitting AIS. But, they couldn't see us. I thought it might be nice if other vessels could see Breeze On as well, particularly if we are sailing at night or in fog.

George and our friend, Ray, recently installed an AIS transponder (on a brutally hot day I might add). Now you can see where we are by going to either marinetraffic.com or vesselfinder.com and searching for Breeze On. You can even sign up for an email alert to be notified when we are on the move. MarineTraffic and Vessel Finder also has apps for mobile devices. I should mention that these web sites or apps can find us only if we are in range of a base station. Boats and ships that are equipped with AIS receivers can find us any time we are nearby.

Here are some screen shots from the MarineTraffic and Vessel Finder iPhone apps.

 

 

A Quieter Anchor Chain

The cabin where we sleep is the v-berth, right behind the bow of the boat. Any small noise the anchor chain makes reverberates through the chain locker and sounds very loud in the v-berth. When we anchor, George attaches a line that goes from the anchor chain to a cleat. This line (called a snubber) takes the pressure off the anchor windlass (a motor that pulls the anchor up). You can see the anchor chain on the left in the photo below and the snubber line on the right. The snubber line is attached to the anchor chain below the water line. When it is windy Breeze On swings back and forth around the anchor chain. When that happens we hear a loud clunk, clunk, clunk as the chain rubs on the snubber and/or a loud "Creeeak!" as the snubber line rubs the boat and stretches. Not a recipe for a good night's sleep.

 

Over the past two seasons George has made several changes in the way he ties the snubber line. He has finally found the answer to a quieter anchor chain.

  • Tie a long snubber line to the chain so that it goes below the water line.
  • Attach a fender so that it sits between the snubber line and the boat.
  • Use a smoother braided line instead of a 3-strand so that if the line rubs against the bow, it doesn't bump, bump bump.
  • Attach another line to the chain to pull it away from the snubber. This way, when the boat swings the chain and snubber don't rub together causing the clunk-clunk-clunk. (You can see that line on the left). He puts a fender under that line as well to keep it off of the boat. This was his latest change and it makes a big difference.

Now the anchor chain is really quiet and we get a better night's sleep.

 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sassafras River

George recently commented that the Sassafras River had become our "white whale"--as in Moby Dick. We had wanted to visit the Sassafras for over a year but just couldn't get there. Last week we finally caught our white whale.

We left on Monday afternoon after George's dentist appointment. We sailed for a few hours and anchored in Dun Cove, near the mouth of the Choptank River. We left Dun Cove early Tuesday morning and started the 70 nautical mile trip up the Chesapeake toward the Sassafras. Our plan was to get there before dark. We started out with good sailing conditions. After a few ours the winds dropped and we decided to motor-sail to improve our chances of getting as far as the Sassafras. We checked the weather radar throughout the day, watching for thunderstorms. By the afternoon thunderstorms were starting to head our way and the Coast Guard broadcast severe storm warnings. We cranked up the engine even higher hoping to be securely anchored by the time they reached us. It was a long, hot, not-very-enjoyable day of motor-sailing. George likened it to a "forced march". I began to wonder if the Sassafras was worth it.

The bay becomes narrow in the northern parts. Ships pass very closely!

 

We turned into the Sassafras and made it to our first anchorage 15 minutes before the first severe thunderstorm was due to arrive. We had the option of anchoring in the open, outer portion of Turners Creek or going through a narrow section to a more protected area. I trusted our chart plotter to get us through to the more protected area. Well, the chart plotter was wrong! I went aground on my first attempt. I reversed off of the shoal and circled around to the area between the green marks and the shore. It was only about 20-30 feet wide and was listed as being 2 feet deep on the chart plotter. It was actually 17 feet deep! We anchored, went for a quick swim and watched the storms go on either side of us. Phew!

I came to a stop when I went aground. I backed up, looped around and went through the "shallow" blue, polka dotted area.
Not much room between the green mark and the shore.

 

The next day we took the dinghy to shore and walked around Turners Creek County Park. After lunch we moved a short distance to Back Creek behind Knight Island. This anchorage overlooked Mount Harmon Plantation, a privately-run historic property. The following day we dinghied over to their dinghy dock and took a one-hour tour of the house. It was very interesting. After the tour we walked on the trails.

Mount Harmon Plantation
 
Tobacco farmed by an Amish farmer on the Mount Harmon Plantation
View from the roof of Mount Harmon Plantation house
 
Breeze On

 

The next day we moved to the Georgetown Yacht Basin and picked up a mooring. We ate dinner at the Kitty Knight restaurant, high on a bluff overlooking the river. The sunset was stunning.

Sunset from Kitty Knight Restaurant
This blue heron liked to roost on mooring balls in the Georgetown Yacht Basin

 

On Friday morning we went back down the river to anchor in the outer Turner's Creek area. We once again watched thunderstorms pass nearby but did not get a direct hit. We were rewarded with some beautiful rainbows.

 

We got up early Saturday morning to start our return trip to the Choptank. The wind was from the northwest at about 20 knots. After we turned into the bay we were moving right along at over 9 knots. We once even hit 9 1/2 knots, a new record for us. It was a fantastic day of sailing.

A great day of sailing!

 

We spent our last night of the trip anchored in Leadenham Creek, off of Broad Creek.

We had a few challenges during the week. My reading glasses broke right in the middle. I tried taping them back together, but they would still fall off my face. I finally settled on using a pencil to brace them and they worked fine the rest of the week.

 

Also, the toilet in the forward head finally quit. We had been expecting it since the other head had broken months before. Fortunately, we had the composting head in the aft head as a back-up. Jabsco had already sent us a "re-engineered" toilet to replace the first one that broke, so we will use that as the replacement for the forward head.

A reminder to not use this toilet!

We very much enjoyed our trip to the Sassafras in spite of the challenges and the initial "forced march" to get there. The water is fresh and nettle-free, making the swimming very easy. It is always nice to see new scenery and visit new and interesting places.