Sunday, December 28, 2014

Organizing on a boat

I like to be organized. I like to put things where they belong so I don't have to spend time looking for them. (I know what you are thinking...can you spell OCD?)

Being organized is a bit of a challenge on a boat since the storage spaces are limited and often odd-shaped. Before we started sailing Breeze On I took measurements of all of the storage areas and purchased some storage units that would fit. I found that my things still weren't very organized because they would shift when we sailed.

I recently had the thought that I could custom make my own flexible storage units to fit the odd shaped spaces on our boat. I found some instructions on Pinterest to make my own vinyl boxes.
I used lightweight vinyl that I purchased from Joanne Fabrics, measured my storage spaces and the I wanted to store. I cut the pieces of vinyl and sewed them together. I was happy with the results.
Next up, larger storage boxes to use for my clothes.
Next season we will see if these vinyl boxes help to keep things a bit more organized on Breeze On and keep my OCD part happy.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our season is over

We had our last cruise early last month. Breeze On was pulled from the water a few weeks ago.


She is sitting right next to the marina building because they are going to install rub rails for us this winter. Remember my disastrous docking? Well, we decided to have rub rails installed after that experience. Even though we are much better at docking now than we were then we believe they will be worth the price for us.

Also on the to do list for the winter is making decisions about solar panels. We have been reading up on electricity and have quite a bit more research to do before we decide. We are currently leaning toward flexible solar panels that will zip onto the bimini. We have to decide how many amp hours we need and which solar panels to buy that will provide the power that we need.

So, even though we are no longer sailing we are still thinking about sailing. The winter will be over before we know it and we will be back out there on the water.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Assorted photos from recent cruises

I haven't documented all of our recent cruises on the blog. If you would like to see tracks of where we have been, click here. If you want to check out our most recent trip, or see if we are out sailing, click here.

In the meantime, here are some assorted photos of our recent trips.

Leadenham Creek
Leadenham Creek
McKeil Point Cove
Dawn and Ray
Ray at the helm on a wild ride home
Dunn Cove
Dunn Cove
Dunn Cove
Local waterman working his trot line within 2 boat lengths of us. He started very early in the morning playing loud country music.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Low-tech Boat Heater

As we continue to cruise through the fall we are finding that the boat is getting pretty chilly at night. We have anchored out when the outdoor temperatures are in the mid-50's at night and the interior of the boat will be in the upper 50's by morning. That is about as cold is we are willing to tolerate.

I heard about a low-tech heater that uses tea candles and terra cotta pots. We decided to give it a try.


First, we put four tea lights into a loaf pan.

Next we inverted a terra cotta pot over the lit tea lights. We had plugged the hole at the bottom of the pot with foil.

Then we put a larger pot on top. We waited for it to get warm. It began to heat the interior of the boat within an hour. The outside pot got nice and warm and was great for warming our hands. The heater increased the temperature of the boat about 4 or 5 degrees and it was really quite comfortable. The candles lasted about 5 1/2 hours.

We did not keep them lit when we went to bed, but we did light some new candles again the next morning. Once again it helped to take some of the chill off. We are not quite ready to stop cruising for the season so this might help stretch it out a bit.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

One-week cruise: the good, the bad and the ugly

One of our goals for our first season of cruising was to complete a one-week cruise before the season ended. It was beginning to look like we might not meet that goal. So, right after the boat show, we decided to go out for a week. We gave ourselves permission to cut it short if necessary.

We quickly threw together our provisioning list and did the shopping. We packed our clothes, loaded up the boat and took off on a gloomy, drizzly morning. There was very little wind so we had to motor for the first hour. We were wearing full foul weather gear to keep us warm and dry. Our initial plan was to spend our first night in an anchorage near the mouth of the Choptank and then decide where to go from there based on the wind direction. However, the wind picked up, we hoisted the sails and were near our planned destination in just a few hours. We made the decision to press on, head North on the Chesapeake and anchor in the Wye River. We later regretted that decision.

Within about an hour the wind dropped and we had to motor-sail in order to make our destination before dark. We definitely didn't want to be anchoring in an unfamiliar anchorage (or familiar one, for that matter) after dark. Once we entered the Chesapeake there weren't any other good options for anchoring unless we turned around.

So, about 30 minutes before sunset we anchored our boat in Shaw Bay on the Wye River. We had been traveling for 81/2 hours and had motored half the time. We were exhausted.

Sunset at Shaw Bay

There was more wind than we expected in the anchorage so the boat did quite a bit of swinging and our sleep was disrupted. We were rewarded in the morning, though, with the sights and sounds of two bald eagles and their nest. I just love bald eagles and am thrilled every time I see one.

We weighed anchor and motored into the Wye East River.

Motoring on Wye East River

It is an absolutely beautiful river with plenty of wildlife and gorgeous, old stately homes hear and there. We tucked into the very narrow Granary Creek and found a wonderful, protected anchorage with just enough room for our boat. We stayed there two nights to wait out some major rain storms. We could see the wind blowing out on the river, but it was completely calm in our little anchorage.

Granary Creek


Before the storms arrived George inflated the dinghy and we took it over to a landing at Wye Island refuge. We went for a walk on the park road. It was a beautiful walk in the woods with the leaves just beginning to turn fall colors. After we returned to the boat the only thing that disturbed our peace was the occasional sound of gunshot. Yikes! It is apparently hunting season around these parts. It does make us feel a little uneasy when we pass by one of the many duck blinds. Hopefully there won't be shooting at sailboats!

We continued up the Wye East River and anchored one night in Skipton Creek just past a beautiful estate that had about 40 black sheep grazing in the front lawn. What a sight!

A bald eagle greeted us when we arrived. We dinghied over to Wye Landing which has a few ramshackle buildings, docks, boat landing and a beer keg mooring field. Ha! How creative!

Beer Keg Mooring
Beer Keg Mooring Field

We took a walk and then dinghied past the black sheep to get a closer look.

We spent our next night at a small anchorage near the mouth of the Wye East River. Another lovely, peaceful, protected spot.

Anchorage on Wye East River

Unfortunately, while I was showering in the afternoon, our water tank ran dry. No, it wasn't because I was being wasteful with the water! I was actually being careful about conserving it. The problem was that we had become complacent about monitoring our water levels and usage since we had never anchored out for more than two nights at a time. We never seemed to use much water and rarely had to fill the tank. George had filled the tank a week before our this cruise but we had anchored out with friends for one night and hadn't topped the tank off after that trip. The water level sensor doesn't seem very accurate so we found ourselves ignoring it. Well, lesson learned. We considered our options and decided to continue to stay out for another two nights as planned. We had gallon jugs of water for drinking and wipes for washing our hands. We stockpiled the dirty dishes and our heads flush with sea water so that wasn't an issue. We decided against going to St. Michaels to fill the water tank. It was still windy and I didn't want to try to tie up to their docks in that much wind. (Not until I get much better at docking).

The next morning we headed back down the Chesapeake and into the Choptank with a plan to stay in Boby Owl Creek, a protected anchorage off of Broad Creek. The winds were a steady 20-25 knots from the west so we had a good sail down Eastern Bay and in the Chesapeake. The seas were 3-4 feet so it was quite a bumpy ride. George enjoyed the ride more than I did.

Boby Owl Creek was not as calm as we had hoped so the boat was swinging quite a bit at anchor. It was difficult to get to sleep with the noise of the wind and the anchor snubber lines stretching. At midnight George woke up and checked the anchor alarm and found that our anchor had dragged 280 feet. The alarm was set to go off if we moved more than 100 feet and we don't know why it didn't. We were apparently almost on the rocks and in the trees although it was hard to tell where we were because it was pitch black outside. We quickly went up into the cockpit, started the engine and weighed the anchor. I was absolutely terrified because I could not see where we were or where we were going. On top of that, the Marriage Saver headsets that we use to communicate when anchoring weren't working so George couldn't hear me and I couldn't hear him. He had to walk halfway back to tell me what to do. We did get the anchor set, with more rode this time, and didn't drag the rest of the night. It was an experience I hope to never have again. All I wanted to do was go home.

It wasn't until after we did get home that I was able to put perspective on the cruise and realize it was overall a good experience. The good included the beautiful anchorages we saw and the great sailing we had; the bad was running out of water; and the ugly was dragging anchor in the middle of a very dark and windy night. We thoroughly enjoyed the good and learned from the bad and ugly.

Safely back at the dock



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Boat Show!

The Annapolis Boat Show is quite a big deal. The literature claims that it is the largest and oldest boat show. The entire inner harbor of Annapolis is filled with floating docks. The boats that are tied to the docks are so close together it is hard to imagine how they maneuver them in and out. I have heard it is quite a sight to see how they assemble and disassemble it.

Pictures don't do it justice.

View from the water taxi after closing


In addition to wall-to-wall boats that have several tents full of vendors. It can be quite overwhelming.

We have been attending the boat show most years for the past eight years. Early on we went because we happened to be in town visiting our daughter in college. We bought a few odds and ends, like a soft-sided cooler one year and an electric gadget to help us with our starts in races another year. Last year we were shopping for our cruising boat.

This year we returned to look at some items we may want to add to Breeze On if we take her to the Bahamas. (My dream.) We talked to some vendors about solar panels and wind generators. We also talked to vendors about composting heads. (Send me a comment if you would like to know more :-). George had a few of his questions answered about the navigation system. It was easier to get information about products and have questions answered when we could actually see the products and speak to someone face-to-face about them. We bought only a few things; a couple of nice, sharp knives to use on the boat, some Kanberra gel and and this cool little solar light that I am hoping we can use at the dinner table tonight.

Charging the solar light

Now that we have Breeze On I really don't have much interest in looking at other boats. We did spend a little bit of time checking a few out anyway. We looked at an Amel just out of curiosity. It was 55 feet long and a mere 1.4 million dollars. It had real glass windshields (or something very much like real glass) and the interior was like a fancy Manhattan apartment.


We saw a 90 foot catamaran. Ninety feet long!!! It was humongous!!


We looked at this year's version of the Hanse 415 which is very much like ours. We also looked at the Hanse 575 which has a garage in the stern into which you can pull your dinghy! What a hoot!

There were a few added treats for us in this year's boat show. We went with friends, Dawn and Ray, the first day. I also was able to meet up with some women from the wonderful Women Who Sail FaceBook group. I so enjoy talking with other women who enjoy sailing as much as I do. On the second day we met with other Hanse owners at a Hanse owners cocktail party. We also met some very nice couples who belong to the Sailing Happily Ever After FaceBook group.

Our two days there were exhausting but educational and fun.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Blue Mind

We returned to Maryland and Breeze On last week after spending a month in Florida helping my mom. Since we returned and started sailing again I have been thinking about a new book called Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. Hmmm, makes sense to me! Maybe that explains why we love being on the water so much and why we missed it so much this past month. I love it when my subjective experiences are backed up by science. I just purchased the e-book and look forward to reading it soon.

This past week we took a one-night cruise to Plain Dealing Creek off of the Tred Avon River. I felt a bit rusty on the helm but everything went well. The weather is so much cooler now than it was when we left in mid-August so we decided not to go for our usual swim.

Shortly after we dropped the anchor George told me to look at what was coming up the creek toward us. I looked up and saw this.


It was a 104 foot mega yacht that docked at a nearby house.


Quite a sight!

Later, we watched yet another beautiful sunset. I hope I never take these for granted.


We came home for one night to reprovision and then took Breeze On out for a two night cruise with our friends, Doug and Laura. It is the first time we have had guests overnight and it all went very well. We relaxed, played Mexican Train and had lots of laughs. One of my favorite parts was when we all laid on the deck one night and looked up at the stars. My vision has been deteriorating the past few years so it turns out that I don't see nearly as many stars as everyone else. I am definitely going to have to get my vision checked!

LaTrappe Creek
Doug at the helm George on navigation


Phillips Creek
Laura relaxing in the cockpit

We returned to Cambridge in time to watch competitors crossing the finish during Cambridge's first Ironman competition. We fell asleep listening to the announcer's voice still shouting, "______. YOU. ARE. AN IRONMAN!!!"


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cheap, Custom Log Book

There are all kinds of options for a sailing log book. You can use an electronic log (laptop or iPad, etc.), blank notebook, custom bound book or something in between. When we started sailing Breeze On last May we used a blank notebook because we hadn't decided on anything else.


It was a little bit cumbersome because we had to rewrite all the headings every time we made an entry.

We thought we might go with an electronic log book but realized that we don't always have the iPad in the cockpit and don't always want to keep it in the cockpit. We decided to try to make our own custom paper log book with custom-designed pages.

We first agreed on the headings we found useful and designed a page using Excel. The headings we chose are: date, time, latitude, longitude, course over ground (COG), speed over ground (SOG), apparent wind angle (AWA), apparent wind speed (AWS), true wind speed (TWS), weather and comments. George printed a cover page using the logo for Breeze On. Then, we went to Staples, asked them to print 50 copies of the log book pages and bind them with the cover page on top.

The whole thing cost less than $10.00. We are quite please with it. The only changes I might make in a future version is to add a line at the top to indicate the trip or destination and add more space for comments.


On another note, if you follow us using Spot, you will see that we haven't done any sailing for 3 weeks. That is because we took a break to help my mom recover from a badly broken leg. We have been at her home in Florida since she was discharged from a rehab facility. We will be here for another 9 days or so and then return to our home and Breeze On.