Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Gennaker

Today, on our return from Dun Cove in Harris Creek, we finally had the right conditions to try our gennaker.

We were really pleased with how easy it was to use. It comes in a sock that is raised when the gennaker is opened and brought down when you want to douse it. I will take a photo of it in its sock the next time we use it. It made sailing downwind in light winds much more interesting. We are so glad we decided to have one made.

Our trip out to Harris Creek yesterday seemed so much faster, but actually took about the same amount of time. We were sailing and had to tack the entire way in winds that were about 14 knots with gusts in the low 20's. We encountered a friend on the river and we each took photos of each other's boats.

We love the way Breeze On sails.

Dun Cove in Harris Creek was beautiful. This might become another one of our favorite spots.

I did say we had light winds today, right? Well, that was until just before we arrived at Cambridge. The winds picked up and were out of the northwest so they were coming right down the creek. Our normally protected marina wasn't so protected. The wind pushed the boat past the slip on my first attempt so I aborted it. It was a challenge to get the boat in position again because the wind was pushing me toward the pilings. I decided to head out of the creek a little ways, turn around and try again. If it didnt work the next time I was going to dock the boat bow in. My second attempt was more successful but I did rub up against two of the pilings. I wasn't even upset about it and was happy I was able to get the boat in at all in those conditions.

I do believe my post on Docking, revisited was the kiss of death. I shouldn't have talked about how I was getting better at docking. Lesson learned.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Electrical Problems

Last Friday we were all prepared to go sailing with four guests. It was a beautiful day. Just breezy enough, sunny with low humidity. George had gone to the boat to get everything set up. After we all boarded, one of the last things to do was turn on the navigation system. I turned it on at the control panel. The system powered up but had no data readings. No GPS, no depth, no wind readings. We turned it off and on several times with the same results. George and I pulled out manuals, opened up electrical panels and tried to figure it out. I thought it was probably a blown fuse but they all looked okay. After about 1/2 hour I came back up into the cockpit and joined the others. One of our guests went into the cabin to try to help. I eventually got the food out for lunch, so instead of sailing and anchoring for lunch, we ate at the dock. George and I were disappointed but our guests were really good sports about it. After a few hours everyone but George gave up and came home. George talked to three separate technicians at Simrad. The first wasn't the least bit helpful. The second was more helpful and the third was even more helpful. After working on it for hours he determined that there is something wrong with the masthead unit. That is a device at the top of the mast that measures wind direction and speed. For some reason, when it was connected to the system, other things shut down. Since it is a new boat it should be under warranty so we are going to get a Simrad dealer to take a look at it. Our local Simrad dealer is booked for three weeks. In the meantime we can keep the masthead disconnected from the system and sail without the wind data.

We don't have any idea why we are having this problem but George noticed that several others on a Hanse forum are having problems with their units.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Docking, revisited

Since our disastrous docking experience last month we have: taken docking lessons, moved the boat to a more protected marina and continued to practice maneuvers. I guess it has paid off because my husband received a wonderful compliment when he was at the boat yesterday. Jimmy, a young man we presume to be the son of the marina's owner, came by and took a tour of Breeze On. While he was there he said something like, "your wife is killing it at docking." I can't tell you how much that meant to me. It is one thing to feel a little more comfortable with docking and another for my husband and I to congratulate each other for a job well done. But, to have someone we don't even know offer an unsolicited compliment, well, that feels really good.

(At this point I am knocking on wood because I don't want to jinx the progress we have made.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Beyond the Choptank

This past weekend we cruised beyond the Choptank River and out into the Chesapeake for the first time since our delivery trip two months ago. The winds were very light when we started out Friday afternoon so we planned to go only as far as the lovely LaTrappe Creek, seven nautical miles from Cambridge, for the first night. It took us a few hours to get there and anchor the boat. At times we were sailing at speeds between one and two knots. We were sailing, though, so what could be wrong with that?

We were in a beautiful, peaceful anchorage and had a restful night's sleep. On Saturday we weighed the anchor and started out for the Chesapeake and the Little Choptank River. We sailed, motor-sailed and then motored into the Little Choptank River. We chose to anchor in the first anchorage we found in Hudson Creek since the winds were predicted to be light again on Sunday. It was another beautiful, peaceful anchorage and we enjoyed our time there.

When we started our short cruising trips we decided we would avoid the weekends. Since we are retired we have the option of going out during the week and can avoid the weekend crowds. We have found, though, that our schedules and the weather can make it difficult to sail during the week. So, we amended our plan and decided to go ahead and try the weekend if that appears to be the best option. This past weekend turned out to be just fine and we are so glad we went.

By the time we got up on Sunday the weather forecast had changed and was now predicting a chance of rain. Since any chance of thunderstorms was slight we left the anchorage anyway and started to head for Cambridge. As we entered the Choptank, I could see on the chart plotter a relatively shallow area in the middle of the river that I imagine James Michener used as inspiration for Devon Island in his book, Chesapeake.

The boat shape is Breeze On just past "Devon".

There is no longer an island there (not entirely sure there was ever an island there), but it is fun to imagine it.

As we approached Cambridge some rain storm started developing on each side of the river. They didn't look serious so we decided to proceed on. At one point they merged and stretched across the river.

We did get wet but there was no significant wind. We furled the jib and dropped the main sail, anyway, just in case.

All in all, the weekend was a success. We are both enjoying the cruising more and more as we progress in the learning curve and look forward to even more cruising trips.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Great Weekend

One of the most difficult parts of our moving from Connecticut to Maryland was leaving our friends behind. This weekend two of our friends, Grace and Christan, came for a visit. They had not yet seen Breeze On so we took them out for a sail on Saturday. The winds were very light in the morning, ranging from 4 knots to 0 knots. We sailed most of the way to one of our favorite locations, LaTrappe Creek. Christan did a fantastic job driving the boat.

Christan driving the boat


We decided to bypass the first anchorage, Martin Point. It has a lovely sandy beach and is always crowded. We opted for the next anchorage, which we had to ourselves. After we arrived we dropped an anchor, ate lunch and then went for a swim. It was a hot day and the water felt good.

Christan swimming from the boat. Grace did not want her photo posted.


By the time we weighed anchor and headed back to Cambridge the wind was up to 8-10 knots but was right on our nose so we motored back. We wanted to be back in town and ready to attend the Taste of Cambridge by 5:00 pm so we didn't want to take the time to tack back up the river.

At Taste of Cambridge we sampled 13 delicious crab dishes and enjoyed a few tasty drinks, too. We love sharing Cambridge and Breeze On with friends and family. We so enjoyed sharing them with Grace and Christan.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ran Aground

There is a tired old saying that is especially appropriate for the Chesapeake. It goes something like this, "There are three kinds of sailors on the Chesapeake, those who have gone aground, those who will go aground and those who lie about it. " Well, I am not going to lie about it, we ran aground. We were in San Domingo creek which is also known as the "back door" to St. Michaels. The channel is very tricky and narrow and it was an especially low tide. (Mental note--check tides before entering a narrow, tricky, shallow creek.) I was driving in the narrowest part of the creek and apparently got too close to one side when, boom, the boat stopped and the bow dipped down. I put the boat in neutral, then reverse, and the boat backed off of the shoal. Fortunately, the bottom throughout most of the Chesapeake is muddy and soft.

Went aground near that green square in the middle

The dreaded green mark where we went aground


After we were free and I overcame my confusion on where to go without going aground again, we proceeded on and found a place to drop the anchor. Then we went for a swim. Swimming from the boat remains one of my favorite things about cruising, so far.

The next day George inflated the dinghy and attached the motor. The entire operation took about 40 minutes. Not too bad. We got into the dinghy and motored about 1/2 mile to the dinghy dock located in a park in St. Michaels.


We walked about a mile from there to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We had heard good things about it and weren't disappointed. We spent a few hours at the museum but it was such a hot and humid day that we decided to leave before we had visited all of the buildings. We will definitely be back. We stopped at a deli for lunch before walking back to the dinghy dock. When we rounded the corner to approach our boat it was such a pleasure to see her there at anchor from our dinghy. We took a quick swim and then napped. As usual, we hadn't slept well the night before. Every little noise of the anchor chain would wake us.

There was a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms that evening and we debated about leaving for home. We decided to stay for our planned second night at anchor. We weren't in the lucky 70% that didn't get thunderstorms, however. The radar showed a line of storms headed right for us. Before they arrived the winds quickly picked up and a pop-up storm came through. George let out more anchor chain and we anxiously watched to see if our anchor was dragging. We were both kicking ourselves for deciding to stay. That part was definitely not fun. There was only one other boat anchored within sight of us, a large sailboat anchored about a 1/4 mile away. I looked over at them and saw that they had dragged quite a bit. We watched them pick up their anchor and move toward us. I was hoping they were just going to leave the creek, but, no, they stopped and dropped their anchor within three boat lengths of us. GREAT! Now we not only have to worry about our boat dragging but we also have to worry about theirs dragging into us! George brought the air horn up into the cockpit in case we had to alert them that they were dragging again. The storm passed within an hour and the anchors of both of our boats had held. Phew! The winds calmed quite a bit and we went to bed. We both slept well until George woke at 1 am when a second thunderstorm passed by. I didn't even wake up for that one. The anchor held again and George went back to bed. We woke up to a very calm morning and headed for home.

This was an experience of firsts. Our first time going aground, our first time using the dinghy and our first time experiencing a thunderstorm while at anchor. Going aground and going through a thunderstorm were not fun experiences but we felt good that we managed them.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Dinghy

We bought a used, inflatable dinghy with a high pressure inflatable bottom. The idea was that we could deflate it, fold it up and store it in the "garage" when we weren't using it.

A few weeks ago George inflated it with the foot pump just to try it out. He said it took less than 20 minutes, not bad for his first attempt. It was a hot day and he inflated it on our porch. He had to bring it inside because it was starting to expand in the heat. The instructions warn you to monitor it when the temperature changes.

We hope to go to St. Michaels this week and use the dinghy to go in to explore the town. Yesterday we loaded all of the dinghy stuff into the car then onto the boat.

Quite a bit of stuff for the dinghy

George tells me the dinghy weighs only 70 pounds, but if you had asked me I would have guessed 200 pounds. We did get it into the garage by going through the galley.

George attached the motor to the motor mount on the stern.

It is the same 2 horse power long-shaft motor we had for our J/80. We won't be moving very fast and don't need a long-shaft motor for the dinghy but will give it a try for now. We hope the prop doesn't go aground as we approach the dinghy dock.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Marking the Anchor Chain

One of the many boat projects we did today was mark the anchor chain. It was probably the simplest project we have done yet. It is useful to mark the chain at intervals to verify that enough chain is let out when the boat is anchored. If too little chain is let out the anchor will not hold. There are various methods for determining how much chain is let out. One is to count how many feet of chain go out per second and then count the seconds. Another is to spray paint the chain at various intervals. Another is to buy colored plastic pieces that are inserted into the pieces of chain. Each of those methods has it's advantages and disadvantages. When I attended Cruiser's University in April, Pam Wall, cruiser extraordinaire, told us about an ingeniously simple and effective way to mark the chain. She suggested asking a sailmaker for scraps of spinnaker cloth in three colors. Cut strips that are about one inch by one foot. Tie the strips on the chain at the intervals of your choice, using a square knot and alternating the colors. She told us that the cloth is so light it goes through the windlass (device that hauls the chain up and down) with ease. The cloth is durable so lasts a very long time and the colors hold.

When we picked up our new gennaker (like a spinnaker) from the sailmaker a few weeks ago we asked for scraps of spinnaker cloth. He gave us this piece.

I cut the strips.

George tied one through a link of chain and tried running it through the windlass just to make sure it didn't foul the windlass. When he was convinced that it would work he measured the chain on the deck.

Then he tied the strips on the chain at intervals of 10 feet, 30 feet, 50 feet, 70 feet and 90 feet. (We have 100 feet of chain.)

We hope to test it when we anchor out next week. Maybe we will even sleep better while we are anchored!



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Follow Breeze On

Just before we started out on our delivery trip we purchased a Spot tracking device. Since we started our one-night cruises last week we have been turning it on to keep track of our trips. You can see our tracks by clicking here.

I have added a page to the blog called "Breeze On's Adventures" that will also take you to this link. It is right under the photo of Breeze On.

Our most recent trip was to the Tred Avon River in Oxford, MD. You can find the track of our trip here. The track will remain there for seven days. After that, this link will take you to our most recent trips and the tracks will be there for seven days. It looks as if we traveled over land because the Spot was set to send a signal once an hour. Believe me, we did NOT travel over land! We have reset the Spot to send a signal more frequently so the track will look more accurate. I have also added another blog page to connect you with the link to current trips. It is called "Where is Breeze On?"

We saw the most unbelievably large mansions on the way to our anchorage.

This is just one of many. We anchored near this mansion and had a view of another sunset that was just as good as theirs!

Since anchoring out is new for us we find that we don't sleep all that well. Any little noise wakes us up and we become concerned that something is wrong or we are moving. I even had a dream that we had drifted up next to a buoy and I couldn't wake George up to let him know. I am sure that, with practice, we will become more relaxed and get better sleep.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Broad Creek

Last week we took our second overnight cruising adventure to Broad Creek. This creek is indeed broad and eventually leads to a "back way" into St. Michaels. We opted to save that trip for a time when we have the dinghy all ready to go so we can dinghy into St. Michaels and see the sights. Instead, we anchored in Boby Owl Cove. It wasn't quite as beautiful as LaTrappe creek, but it was still lovely. As soon as we arrived we dropped the swim platform, put the ladder in and went for a swim.


We never went swimming from our last boat, WindChime, so this is a real treat for us. Unfortunately, we hear that we will be unable to swim very soon due to the influx of a type of jellyfish called stinging nettles. Oh well, enjoy it while you can!

Boby Owl Cove is protected on three sides and the wind dropped down to nothing after dinner. It was quite warm so we went for another swim.


Later, we watched another beautiful sunset.

The winds picked up the next morning and were in the teens by the time we were ready to go. We sailed back toward Cambridge anyway, but decided it was too windy to attempt docking. The winds were predicted to drop later in the afternoon so we turned around, sailed back to LaTrappe creek, dropped the anchor and waited.

We worked on a few projects while we waited and then decided to head for Cambridge by 6 pm rather than stay another night. We hadn't made arrangements for our cat or provisioned for more than one night. It was still pretty breezy when we arrived back in Cambridge but we decided to attempt the docking anyway and hope that it was calmer at the end of the creek.

We docked without doing any major damage and called it a success.