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Curlew's Log
Block Island
07/23/2010, Block Island, RI

Tuesday July 20 to Thursday July 22
In the morning I moved CURLEW to the fuel dock to top up the diesel tank. Tom and Barry, the crew for the first part of the trip to Block Island, came on board and we left at 1015, at high tide to benefit from the south bound current down the Delaware River. The Delaware (River and Bay) must be one of the most boring stretches of water you can imagine. It is completely featureless (except, perhaps, for the Salem Nuclear Power Plant) and is very shallow outside of the channel. It almost always involves lots of motoring, and this time it was no different. We motored all the way down the Bay and around Cape May and did not get any wind until 0545 on Wednesday morning when a gentle breeze (10/12k from the SW) sprung up.

We set sail and turned off the engine. During the morning and early afternoon the wind shifted around a bit and dropped below 10 k for a while before it increased again and settled at SW 15/18 k in the late afternoon. That resulted in quite a few sail changes. First: main to SB on a preventer, and jib to port on the telescoping whisker pole. The whisker pole has its own fore and after guys, an extension control line and a topping lift, so including the jib sheets and the jib furling line there are 7 lines that control this set up. After the wind had shifted and we had sailed with the wind over the SB quarter for a while I decided to jibe. This goes as follows: Change course to port to bring the wind on the port quarter, release the boom preventer, winch in the main sheet, do a controlled jibe, reset the boom preventer, furl the jib, take the whisker pole down and move it to SB, reset all the lines and jib sheet and unfurl the jib.

This involves quite a lot of work on deck, so while you do all this juggling you wear a safety harness that allows you to move around while being attached to the boat with a tether. I admit that a safety harness and tether is important, but it also restricts your movements. It often just comes up short or ends up wrapped around some piece of deck hardware, or it somehow wraps itself around one leg and you have to untangle yourself before you can finish the job at hand.

After an hour or two the wind had become so light that I decided to furl the jib and hoist the big drifter (aka "Code Zero") to SB. This is set on its own halyard and has a removable furler with a continuous furling line. Of course it has its own set of sheets, so we just added 4 more control lines to the mix. Within an hour the wind started to shift and after a while I decided to jibe again and set the drifter on the whisker pole to port.

Around 1700 on Wednesday the wind started to increase and we furled and lowered the drifter and put the jib back up. The wind continued to increase and at 1950 we put in a reef. On the radio we had heard of severe thunderstorms in the New York and Long Island area, and after nightfall we could see cloud cover building from the west. They hit us around 2300 but seemed to have lost most of their punch. We got some gusts and sudden wind shifts besides rain, but I don't believe the gusts were over 35k. We had already furled the jib, and out of precaution I lowered the mainsail, but it was all over in 30 minutes. We were left with no wind and a confused sea. We turned on the engine and set the main (with one reef) to stabilize the boat a bit.

At 0215 on Thursday the wind had picked up from the northwest. We turned of the engine and set the jib. The weather forecast was for wind increasing to 15 to 20k, with gusts to 25, so I left the reef in the main. At 0420 the wind had increased to 18/21k and gusty, and we furled the jib and set the smaller staysail instead. At 0820 we were able to set the jib again and at 1045 I decided to take out the reef. Two hours later the wind picked up again to 19/22k and we put the reef back in. On 1445 on Thursday we entered the Great Salt Pond at Block Island and dropped anchor after 53 hours underway.

It was a very successful trip with some great sailing. Most of Thursday was broad reaching under jib and main with one reef; it does not get much better than that.

Despite some quirks the AIS box was informative (although it lost its GPS signals twice for no apparent reason) but we did not have to hail any other vessel on the VHF.

We saw dolphins, 2 pilot whales (briefly), shearwaters and stormy petrels.

Today (Friday) we are are spending a lazy day at anchor in BI (it's raining anyway).

Maine 2010
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Ready for Maine
07/20/2010, Philadelphia

July 14 to July 20
Our week in Philadelphia was easily filled with small projects (such as installing an N.A.S.A-AIS radar device, and changing engine oil and filters) and provisioning. Finally CURLEW is ready for her trip to Maine. To celebrate we had a small party on board, which almost emptied CURLEW's wine lockers, and the next day we had to do more shopping to fill them again. But it was lots of fun. On Monday I topped up the water tanks and the only thing left was to wait for the crew to arrive the next morning.

Maine 2010
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Preparing for Maine
07/13/2010, Philadelphia

CURLEW is finally on the move again. This summer we are going back to Maine. The last few weeks I've worked on a variety of projects to get ready for the trip. Last weekend I put two coats of Cetol Gloss on the caprail and on Monday and Tuesday Mary and I took her from Baltimore to Philadelphia. Dodging thunderstorms and heavy rain we anchored in the Bohemia river for the night and on Tuesday afternoon we arrived at the Philadelphia Marine Center. Barb, the marina manager, was surprised to see us. They had torrential downpours and flooding in the morning, but we did not see any rain of substance on the trip up the river (Delaware).

In Philadelphia I have a week to finish a few more projects and when we're done provisioning we will leave next Tuesday. Mary will not be on board for the trip north, but she will join me later in Maine. For the first half of the trip two friends will crew, at least to Block Island. One crewmember possibly all the way to Maine.

I can see the tip of the mast from our living room window. The last time we had CURLEW in the PMC our building was still under construction.

Maine 2010
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Holding tank sensor
02/18/2010, Baltimore, MD

Last summer the WEMA holding tank gauge and sensor stopped working. It is not a comfortable feeling not to know how much space is left in the holding tank, especially when you have guests on board. But there are few boat jobs that are worse than opening a holding tank in the summer heat. So this project was postponed until the winter.

Now that the temperature is in the low 30s (20s at night) I thought it would be a good time to tackle this project. When I was on board in January I tried to disassemble the old sensor unit. I removed the flush-hose and the six machine screws that attach the sensor to the top of the tank. Then I pulled up the sensor unit. The entire assembly is made of plastic, and although the float assembly was easy to extract, the tube in which the float moves up and down stayed stuck inside the tank. It also appeared that the tube had a thread and that the sensor float was screwed down into the tube. I assume the intention was that the float unit could be removed for cleaning without having to remove the tube. You would still have to remove the six machine screws before you could remove it, though. Anyhow, the thread and the top of the tube appeared to be cracked.

With the assembly outside the tank I checked the movement of the float and although dirty (what else do you expect!) it appeared to move freely up and down. But no reading on the gauge, until the float was in its uppermost position. So the fault was in the float, and not in the gauge. I measured the length of the float; it was about 12". A quick check on the internet showed that WEMA no longer manufactures this particular type of sensor. The current model ("SHS") is made of stainless steel, but has the same dimensions, and should be an easy drop-in replacement. I ordered a unit from (the only outlet that seems to carry these units). I put the old sender back to plug the hole in the tank and went home.

When I came back on board a few days ago I tackled the project of replacing the sensor. I am not an optimist by nature, and having some experience with boat projects, I did not believe that this was going to be easy. But, to my surprise, it was not too bad. (The smell was not too bad either. The tank was "empty", but there is always some liquid left over. When in use I use Odorless holding tank additive, perhaps that stuff really works!)

After removing the old float assembly again, I tried to pull the plastic tube out of the tank. Of course it was stuck, but after some wiggling it started to move. When I got about 4 inches of it out, something broke, and the bottom of the tube fell in the tank. It appeared that the plastic tube was made of segments and threaded together. As the wall thickness was very thin, and the outside of the tube probably full of crud, the wiggling must have pulled the tube segments apart. I decided that I could live with this piece of plastic settling on the bottom of the tank, as the alternative would have been to open at least some of the inspection plates (there are four) and digging around the bottom of the tank to get it out.

The new mounting ring and the position of the machine screws were identical to the old unit. Next I connected the wires to the gauge and checked that everything worked. Finally I wrapped teflon tape around the thread and screwed the float assembly in place. Done!

The old sensor had a flush port that was connected to the fresh water system (separated from it by a ball valve and a check valve), the intention being that you could flush the crud off the float to prevent it from sticking, without having to remove it from the tank. How effective this was remains an open question. I flushed it a few times a year, and the float was fairly clean when I pulled it. The new assembly does not have this option. Instead you can easily unscrew and remove the float assembly and tube without removing the mounting ring. Anyhow, this new model is made of better materials and is easier to remove. How stainless steel will hold up in this hostile environment remains to be seen.

This is a picture of the old sensor. You can see the flush port with the clear hose going to the check valve.

The old sensor removed, with the section of the tube that I was able to get out of the tank.

Here you can see the thread and the crack in the top of the tube.

The hole in the tank with the sensor removed.

The new mounting ring in place.

The new float assembly.

We have a reading!

The entire assembly ready to go.

Installation complete.

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After the snowstorm
02/15/2010, Baltimore, MD

I finally got to the Anchorage Marina in Baltimore today, to shovel 2 ft of snow (at least) off Curlew's deck. (Note to self: next time bring a set of keys to the dock box where you keep your snow shovel. Or, better still, move south again next winter !). Here is a picture of Curlew in the snow.

Is there a dinghy somewhere under here?

Finally a path cleared to the steps.

Next step: Clearing the deck.

Here you get a good idea of how deep the snow was.

Except for the foredeck, I got most of the snow off. Tomorrow I'll clear the foredeck, and do some general cleanup. Now if only tonight's snow fall doesn't add to the accumulation!

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Annapolis Boat Show

Mary spent a long weekend with two girlfriends and her daughter in Denver, for a few days of pampered luxury. I was happy not to be invited and took Curlew for a blustery sail down to Annapolis and spent a few days at anchor in Weems Creek. I had heard from friends that the Annapolis Boat show seemed to be busier than last year the first few days, but when I went on Sunday afternoon and Monday I thought attendance was light.

Not many interesting new boats this year. The prize for the ugliest boat goes, hands down, to the Shannon 52. I don't know what the designer, or the buyer, had in mind when they "designed" this boat. It looks like an enlarged version of their Shoal-Sailer, with several trawler-style levels stacked on top. I can't believe that it will go to windward, and it must be scary to be at that high wheel station with a real sea running. (It had a sign indicating that this was NOT Bob Bitchin's new boat!)

I liked the new Morris 29 day-sailer and was pleased to see that it has a tiller. Did not ask the price. But what really intrigued me was the Italian Sensei. I saw her sailing when I left the Severn River on Tuesday and she looked really pretty. Not retro, but a well proportioned contemporary design. Sorry I did not look at her in more detail at the show.

It was good to see that Cabo Rico had a presence at the show, with Joe Batista's Cabo Rico 56. Too big for my taste (and wallet), but what a beautiful Chuck Paine design. Sometimes I think that in the future it would make sense to go smaller than Curlew's 42 ft. Not too many appealing boats in the 34-37 ft size. I still like the Pacific Seacraft 34, designed by the recently deceased Bill Crealock, and it seems that built quality has improved since the new owners moved the factory to the east coast. Needs a tiller, though. The wheel takes up too much cockpit space. The Tartan 37, although pretty, did not make the cut: Not one good sea berth in this boat. I like at least one (but preferably two) straight bunks parallel to the center line. As a day-sailer the Alerion 28 is still my favorite.

Do I need to vent more opinions? Too many boats that are great as entertainment centers in a marina, and too few that are designed for cruising, with good anchor gear, plenty of handholds below and above decks, and good sailing characteristics. I especially dislike the deck-saloon style boats with their sunroofs at mast level; slippery as hell, and not a handrail in sight. I would hate to work at the mast on one of those dark nights when things always seem to go wrong. Why do you need 10 ft headroom below deck? And why do you need these huge windows? To keep the shutter manufacturers busy?

It was my plan to watch the start of the Schooner Race from the Bay Bridge to Norfolk on Thursday, but the weather forecast was for winds from the north in the 25/30 range, with heavy rain, and temperature around 45. No fun. So on Wednesday I went back to my slip, and watched the schooner parade in Baltimore's harbor from the docks at the Anchorage Marina.

To conclude the trip, I went to West Marine to buy a new space heater. It feels like winter already.

Summer 2009
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A Not Very Laborious Labor Day
09/07/2009, Corsica River, Queenstown and Bodkin Creek

We are in our fourth and final anchorage before we return to Baltimore tomorrow. We have been extremely fortunate to have had three beautiful sailing days, and five days of great weather, relaxation, good food, good friends and much laughter.

When we left Baltimore we sailed to the eastern shore of the Chesapeake to Swan Creek, near Rock Hall. On Friday we had a nice sail up the Chester River, to the Corsica River, to anchor in a relatively quiet anchorage. We rafted up with our friends Lisa and Kirk. Thierry had brought along the sailing dinghy, and it didn't take him long to get her into the water and take her for a sail. On Saturday we left the anchorage and motored down the Chester to an anchorage near Queenstown. I understand there really isn't much of a town in Queenstown, but there is a nice anchorage. There we met up with two other couples and we all rafted together. It was great fun - to see folks we haven't seen in a while and to just talk and laugh. We celebrated Kirk's birthday with a wonderful carrot cake made by Lisa.

One of our party left on Sunday and three of us remained. Kirk donned a wet suit and tank and went into the water and checked the bottom of all of our boats - cleaning off barnacles that had attached themselves to our prop. Thierry noticed a big difference today when we left the Chester River to head back to the eastern shore. By evening, our somewhat quiet anchorage became quite crowded with both sailors and power-boaters. I think we made enough noise to drown out whatever sounds were coming from the others around us.

We are currently at an anchorage about two hours from Baltimore (our home port), after a great sail across the Bay - we were sailing at a speed over 7 knots. On our trip down the Chester River and out to the Bay we joined what looked like hundreds of sailboats on their way to (I assume) their respective home ports. It was quite a site.

We picked up some crabs from a couple of fellows selling steamed crabs from their skiff last night. We'll eat them tonight along with left over pasta. Although it is cloudy outside and there is a threat of rain, it is still comfortable and we are savoring our last evening aboard.

Since we've come south, I finished one book, read two (albeit somewhat short) and am almost finished a third. The one I finished, "Casa Rossa" by Francesca Marciano was a story about three generations of women who spent a portion of their life at a farmhouse (Casa Rossa) in Puglia, and the events (men) that shaped their lives. I really enjoyed this book. There are frequent references to food, with many of the key ingredients (not recipes per se) in Italian. So, I'll have to take the book home and ask Dad what they are talking about. The book makes me want to go to Italy - and to try some new pasta dishes! Because of the book I bought a magazine, Cucina Italiana, that I have never seen before hoping to get inspired... it was only okay.

Lisa loaned me a book, "The Madonnas of Leningrad", which was wonderful. This book took you from past to present, in the memories of a woman who suffers from Alzheimer's. Her past memories take her back to Leningrad in the winter of 1941, when the city was under siege by the Germans. Some 2000 people lived in the basement of the Hermitage during that winter, where our main character resided. She had worked as a docent in the museum before the war, and during her stay, she memorized the original placement of the artwork that was removed to protect it from damage or theft.

I also read Iain Pears' "The Bernini Bust," a detective story that brings an art dealer to Los Angeles where two murders occur relating to some stolen artwork from Italy, which required the assistance of a female detective from Rome who solves the case along with her art dealer boyfriend. An okay, easy read. I am now almost finished reading "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett. I believe this was one of the books selected by our reading group when we were away. This is about a group of people, including a famous opera singer, who are held captive by a group of South American militants. I a,m enjoying the book so far, being about 2/3 the way through.
So, as you can tell, we've been getting lots of R&R. Water, sun, friends, wind, music, laughter, a good book, and an amazing Skipper; what more could one ask for! It's been a great couple of days!

(This post was taken from Mary's blog "A Day in Mary's Life").

Summer 2009
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Back on Board

We did it! Arrived in Baltimore around 12:30, just the right time to go to Mama's on the Half Shell for lunch. Curlew looks beautiful, albeit a bit dirty on the outside from the weather and sitting in the slip. Thierry has a spring in his step that I haven't seen in a while. Even the moon will be full for us when we take Curlew out for a few days on the Bay. We picked up wine and beer, will get food on board tomorrow (you see we have our priorities straight), and hope to head out by noon. We'll join friends in Swan Creek (Rock Hall area) that evening then see where the wind takes us. During the weekend, we hope to raft up with two other boats - it should be a fun time.

This morning I went for another Neupogen shot (to build the white blood cells). It was a good thing I telephoned the oncologist office yesterday to ask if a) they got the results of my blood work and b) if I needed to come in. When I later spoke with the PA she did confirm that running a fever is a side effect of the drug. So, I have been popping Tylenol all day - so far (at 9:55 p.m.) I am still feeling pretty good, and report a normal temperature. I also learned that three shots of Neupogen is a standard regimen.

My wonderful neighbors, Barbara and Doris, both brought over care packages on Monday. Barbara makes the most incredible chicken soup which will feed us for a couple of days. Doris made egg parm (one of my favorites) and included some fresh veggies. All this after my sister and our friend Joan brought dinner (and my parents) over on Sunday. The Sunday dinner at mom's came to our house. Lauren and Mike pitched in - it was great to have everyone around.

Well, Thierry is hoping that the boat isn't too fouled with barnacles and the prop isn't too clogged up so we can get the boat out of the slip tomorrow. I'm off to get a good night's rest and am looking forward to a great couple of days. I hope you all enjoy as well.

(This post was taken from Mary's blog "A Day in Mary's Life".)

Summer 2009
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06/17/2009, Baltimore, MD

CURLEW and her equipment needed some TLC after our trip to the Bahamas. I went back to Baltimore on Monday, with a long list of things to do. It so happened that Wilbert Quesada, who used to work for the Cabo Rico factory in Costa Rica, was in the US, and I "invited" him to spend some time on CURLEW to take care of the woodwork below decks, and some gel coat crazing on deck. Here is a picture of Wilbert at work.

Tuesday I prepared the caprail to touch-up some minor scratches that we incurred since I "cetoled" the caprail in Beaufort, SC.

Next I put a new tire on my folding bike,

and put another patch on the air floor of the Avon dinghy. We'll see how long this lasts. This dinghy has given me more grief than any of the Avons I've owned before. I firmly believe that the quality has suffered since Avon was bought by Zodiac.

I also was going to end-for-end the anchor chain. One section starts to rust, and I was going to treat this section with Ospho, to remove or bind the rust, and then reverse the chain. Unfortunately it is raining today, and this project has to be postponed to a later date.

Summer 2009
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Some Statistics
05/20/2009, Baltimore, MD

Our trip on CURLEW started on 11/1/2008. We returned to Philadelphia for the holidays on 12/15 and we went back to CURLEW in Florida on 1/26/2009. CURLEW was back in Baltimore on 5/19/2009. The entire trip lasted 158 days.

We were 428 hours underway and put 2,596 nm on the log. We ran the engine for 262 hours, which includes some motorsailing, but most of this was spent under power on the Intra Coastal Waterway. Also, we ran the engine 21 hours purely for battery charging and running the water heater. In addition, we ran the Honda generator a total of 83 hours for charging and water heating.

No real mishaps, only small things, such as constant problems with a leaking dinghy (Avon, I would never buy one again), a burned out alternator, a small tear in the mainsail and one grounding (both happened in the last few days on the Chesapeake Bay).

Bahamas 2008/2009
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Back in Baltimore
05/19/2009, Baltimore, MD

CURLEW is back in her slip in Baltimore. Yesterday I stayed in Weems Creek, to wait out a predicted strong cold front, that, in the end, did not have much of a punch. Anyway, there is always something to do on a boat, and I used the time to move the remote control for the autopilot from the cockpit (where it did not do much good, as it was too close to he main control unit at the wheel) to the chart table. Now I can steer the boat both from the cockpit, the chart table and from the companion way. This was a project that had been on the "to-do list" for 5 years or so. Finally done. Very satisfying. This morning I left Weems Creek around 0900 for the short trip to Baltimore, and I was lucky that I left early, because the Severn was about to be closed for the Blue Angel air show rehearsal The trip to Baltimore was entirely under power, and uneventful. Good to be back (Or is it?).

Bahamas 2008/2009
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Annapolis/Weems Creek, MD - Almost Home!
05/16/2009, Weems Creek, MD

We left Solomons at 0800, with little wind and low clouds. The forecast was for 10/15 knot winds from the south. They did not materialize until noon, when I turned off the engine. The first part of the trip I saw very few sailboats, but I had to dodge numerous small fishing boats. The spring fishing season must have started. Approaching Annapolis there were sailboats everywhere, including a few races. I can't remember the last time I saw so many boats. Unnerving, almost. Passing Thomas Point lighthouse (picture) felt almost like coming home. At 1500 I picked up an empty Naval Academy mooring in Weems Creek. We will stay here until the predicted strong cold front has passed. Nice opportunity to re-visit Annapolis. Then back to the marina in Baltimore.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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