11/21/2010, Piers Marina, Philadelphia
I decided to take CURLEW to Philadelphia for the winter. We have a little marina two blocks from where we live and it is nice to have CURLEW close by.
Barry was again a valuable and cheerful crew member. Last summer he crewed for the trip to Block Island in July. That was a hot trip; even at night at sea the temperature and the humidity stayed very high.
This time was different. We left the Anchorage Marina at 1045 on Friday, loaded fuel and were underway at 1100. We had a gorgeous, but cold trip from Baltimore to the basin at Chesapeake City, where we tied up at the (free) public dock at 1800. We sailed a fair amount, we motored only the first part on the Patapsco and the last part in the northern bay, when the wind became variable and light . Beautiful and dramatic sunset when we passed Turkey Point. Dinner at a local restaurant and to bed early. I left the heater on low.
The next morning there was ice on the dock. We departed at 0700 and motored through the C&D Canal, and up the Delaware river to Philadelphia. We were lucky to have the current with us all the way to Philadelphia where we arrived at 1400.
Not early enough to put CURLEW in its designated slip, unfortunately. The Piers Marina has a serious shoaling problem. At low tide there is maybe 2 ft of water in the marina (the slips itself are deeper), and I did not want to take the risk to run aground in the middle of the marina on a falling tide. So we tied up at the marina entrance, and will move CURLEW to her slip on Sunday, an hour before high tide. Mary took this picture from our living room, just as we entered the marina.
Today, Kirk helped me move CURLEW. I wanted to go in stern-first. I am not good at backing-up into a slip, and I was glad that I had competent help. I needed it! No harm done, and CURLEW is now safely berthed in her winter quarters.
The following was taken from Mary's blog:
"Thierry and I came aboard Curlew on Wednesday and took her out on Thursday, figuring this will be our last sail of the season. The temperature was still a balmy 70, and we had a good wind enabling us to sail down the Patapsco River and the Bay. We anchored in a quiet spot on the Rhode River just south of Annapolis and were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
We left the anchorage around noon on Friday and headed east to the Wye River. On Saturday we go on to St. Michaels where we will meet some friends who are driving down for the weekend.
On Friday the winds averaged 25 knots, with gusts over 30. The skies were an incredible blue, laced with puffy white clouds. The winds were from the NE, and the waves were pushing 4 ft and steep; high for the Bay. As we were crossing the Bay, we noticed a very large sailboat heading north. Thierry thought that she was a racer and wondered if there was a race going on. Before too long, the boat got closer - and closer. She looked to be about 65' or so; black hulled with white stripes angled on either side of her bow. She flew huge Mylar, high-tech sails and had a crew of about 15, most of which were hanging over her port side as she made her way north.
We were on broad reach with the wind on our starboard quarter. The approaching boat was on a port tack - all this meaning we had the right of way. The racer was making incredible headway, and seemed to come up to our starboard side in a matter of minutes. Thierry seemed to think she was going to pass behind us - but from where I was sitting, this boat looked like she was going to hit us.
So, what did we do, I grabbed my cell phone to take pictures and Thierry went below to get the camera. Here we both are, cameras in hand watching this boat gain on Curlew - Thierry saying, well we have right of way and there really is nothing we can do! The racer was flying, literally- Thierry said she was planning, meaning her bow was out of the water, spray flying everywhere. We were so close I could see the expression on all of their faces - none of which looked panicked, annoyed (that we were in their way), or in any way interested in the two idiots standing on deck trying to take pictures.
Several thoughts ran through my head - the main one was: So when they recover our bodies, will someone comment on the fact that we were standing there taking pictures when we went down? Would they find the cameras which would show the point of impact? I really didn't see how they could miss our stern. Oddly enough, I wasn't afraid, but I sure felt like a bit of a dope. It made me think of those people who take pictures of natural disasters like tornados. Can you imagine standing there being pelted with 100 mph winds, hail and debris, taking videos of a tornado so you can get it shown on the local news? My next thought was - so I guess this is how one becomes qualified to win the Darwin award; too stupid to avert danger!
Obviously, since I am writing this, we came out of the incident unscathed. But if you could have seen how close this boat was and how fast they were moving - I don't think they passed more than a few feet behind Curlew. You could hear the loud roar of their sails and feel the spray from their boat. It was amazing. As it goes, I never did get a decent picture because I had sunglasses on and couldn't see to shoot. Thierry got a few as she approached and after she passed us. I have since learned where the video buttons are - so I'll be ready next time!
It is now Sunday evening, and since I hadn't posted yet, decided to finish out the weekend.
We spent Friday night in Dividing Creek off the Wye River. This is a very secluded and scenic anchorage.
On Saturday morning we left for St. Michaels where we arrived about 11:30 a.m. We ate lunch aboard and headed into town around 1:00. Our timing was perfect, as our friends from Philly, Barbara and Barry, arrived around the same time, having driven down that morning. We met them later in the evening for dinner. Today they came aboard and we had a nice motor down the Miles River and a great sail back to St. Michaels. The winds were 25 knots gusting to 30 from the NW, so we plowed through on the northern leg of the trip. Fortunately the sun was blazing, so it kept the temperatures at a very comfortable 60+ degrees.
When we got back to the anchorage, we left for town and had a fun time at Ava's Wine Bar where we had drinks and dinner and great conversation with a variety of bar partrons. Now, back on board, we are hoping that the winds die down enough tomorrow to make our 45-mile trip back to Baltimore bearable."
Thierry added: the trip back from St. Michaels was an uneventful motor-sail, with winds from the north at 10/15 kn., but dead on the nose most of the time. As we had to be back in Baltimore in the afternoon, I kept the engine running. It was cold. This trip started on Thursday with temperatures in the 70s, and it ended in the 40s. Mary enjoyed reading on her new Kindle.
09/13/2010, Anchorage Marina, Baltimore, MD
On Friday morning I ran to the local Stop & Shop supermarket in Newport, to get some final supplies for the trip back to Baltimore. Kirk and Scott were going to join me for the trip south, and I was a little short on bread and lunchmeat. Back on board, I checked the engine and the Racor fuel filters, which is something I always do before a trip. I was surprised to find one of the Racor filters 2/3rds filled with slimy crud. I did have a rough trip from Boothbay Harbor to Hadley Harbor in Buzzards Bay two days ago, but I thought I had checked the filter while I was at anchor in Hadley Harbor. Perhaps I did not, or if I did, the filters must have appeared clean at that time, and only became clogged during the trip from Hadley Harbor to Newport. Anyway, now I was stuck with a filter bowl full of slimy diesel crud that needed cleaning, and that needed a replacement paper cartridge. And on top of that, Oldport Marine was anxious to get me off the mooring, as the Newport Boat Show people needed my row of moorings to put the boat show floats together. So with great urgency I drained and cleaned the Racor, flushed it with clean fuel, replaced the paper filter and test-ran the engine. Everything looked fine. Let's hope that the Buzzards Bay experience had loosened all the crud in the tank, and that it was all captured by the filter. (Later, after several hours running at sea, I checked the Racor filter bowl again, and it had remained clear, so I guess that there was not much crud left in the fuel tank.)
Scott came on board around noon (after he had bought me a few more spare Racor filters, just in case), and Kirk around 1330. We dropped the mooring and after topping up the fuel tank we left Newport at 1400 with a favorable wind and forecast for the next two days. For the first 24 hours the predictions were for NW winds from 10 to 20 knots, with gusts up to 25 knots. After that the wind would become lighter and anti-cyclonic, clocking to the north through east, to south-and south west. We set sail as soon as we left Newport, with the full jib and one reef in the main. It was great sailing and we were flying with speeds consistently at 8 knots or more. Kirk wanted to throw out a fishing line, and we caught an Atlantic Bonito later in the afternoon. Kirk was appointed Chief Fishing Officer, and expertly bled and filleted the fish. We put four decent size chunks of fish in the freezer for later consumption. (More fishing photos in the Photo Gallery.)
During my watch, from 2300 to 0200 on Saturday morning, the wind increased to NW 20/25 knots and I put a few rolls in the jib. (I rarely use the rolling furler as a reefing tool, as it increases the draft in the jib, which is the opposite of what you want with strong winds. But as we were reaching, I thought it was appropriate.) We were surrounded by dozens of fishing boats, and I wanted to get out of that area as soon as possible. CURLEW obliged, with speeds from 8.5 to over 9 knots.
At 0500 I ran the engine for two hours to charge the batteries. I thought that because of the hard sailing the auto-pilot had put a heavier drain on the batteries than normal. It later transpired that I must have inadvertently changed the fridge and freezer thermostat to it highest setting when I put the fish fillets in the freezer. So the freezer had been running constantly for at least 8 hours, which explained the high power use. As soon as I changed the thermostat back to its normal setting the current consumption went down from 12 to around 6 amps, which is more typical.
Saturday morning dawned with diminishing winds and increasing light cloud cover. In succession, we took out the rolls in the jib, shook out the reef in the main, and later replaced the drifter for the jib. On 1410 the wind had become so light that, with the remaining swell and waves, we were making very little headway under sail. Reluctantly we turned on the engine and it stayed on until 0310, when we entered the Delaware Bay and the wind had picked up just enough to resume sailing. It lasted only for two hours and then we ran under engine all the way up Delaware Bay, through the C&D Canal, until we anchored in Still Pond at 1715 in light fog and rain. It had rained most of the day; what a contrast with the perfect sailing weather of the previous 24 hours. We had a little incident on the Delaware Bay, near the Salem nuclear power plant, when all of a sudden we heard a loud bang, and the engine started vibrating ominously. Scott, who was at the helm at that time, just had noticed that there were crab floats that were pulled under water by the current and they were hard to spot in the rain. We immediately put the engine into neutral, and I checked the prop shaft by hand. It turned freely, and when we looked astern, we saw a dirty white crab float surfacing from underneath the transom. We put the engine back into forward at low rpm, and everything seemed to run normally without any vibration, Would it not have been ironic, returning from Maine with its billions of lobster floats, to have become disabled by one of the few crab floats in the Delaware?
Anchored in a deserted Still Pond we had a nice dinner, of lamb chops, rice, vegetables, and two bottles of red wine. We discussed music, politics, the economy and a few other subjects that I don't remember. I was tired after two nights of little sleep. We went to bed at 2330, and I fell asleep within a few minutes. Around 0030 Kirk called me because he had woken up from the sound of both the fresh water pressure pump and the bilge pump running. I was fast asleep and did not wake up. Kirk and Scott figured out that a hose clamp in the fresh water system had failed, and they shut down the pump on the instrument panel. No need to wake me up with force, and I only heard the story the next morning. It was an easy fix.
We raised the anchor on Sunday morning at 0840, and motored the 25 miles to Baltimore, with sunny skies and light wind. CURLEW was back in her slip in the Anchorage Marina at 1300.
09/09/2010, Newport, RI
Sunset in Newport
Lekker gezeild, as my father would have said. Which translates, sort of, that looking back, today has been a great sailing day. I left Hadley Harbor at 0800 this morning, after spending a blustery day at anchor. But it was very nice to be able to relax after my 32 hour trip from Boothbay.
It was still windy this morning, but very manageable, with one reef in the main and the full genoa. That the wind was, again, dead on the nose, was only a minor inconvenience. Where Buzzards Bay turned into Rhode Island Sound, however, the seas became so confused, and the wind so fluky, that I needed the engine for a little while to power through the waves. After we entered the Sound, I turned off the engine, and it was all perfect sailing until I lowered the sails just outside Newport Harbor. I picked up a mooring at Oldport Marine at 1700, opened a beer (Geary's Pale Ale, a microbrew from Maine) and enjoined the sunset.
09/07/2010, Hadley Harbor, Mass.
After saying farewell to the staff at Carousel Marina, and more in particular, the staff of the Whale's Tale bar and restaurant on Sunday, I prepared CURLEW for an early departure on Monday morning. What was supposed to be a stay of 3 days had turned into a whole week, thanks to Hurricane Earl.
While I was hoisting the dinghy on deck early Monday morning, Mike, on his Albin 36 trawler "Balboita", who had kept me company at the Whales Tale bar on several occasions, waved goodbye. He was on his way to Portsmouth. Perhaps we will meet again in either Baltimore or Philadelphia, possible stops on his way south to his homeport of St Augustine.
I had had some problems with deviation of the fluxgate compass, which controls the auto pilot, and had moved the compass sender to a different location, further away from the magnetism of the stereo speakers. It required a full compass swing to eliminate any remaining deviation. This I did in the outer harbor of Boothbay Harbor, which gave me enough space to put CURLEW through a full, slow 360 degree turn. And it seems to have eliminated the problem. Any remaining deviation is negligible.
Once outside the wind was pretty much dead on the nose. I hoisted the main, but kept the engine running. And that was the way it stayed for the next 24 hours. It was quite breezy the entire trip to the Cape Cod Canal, anywhere between 15 and 20 knots (true) from the south west, with an uncomfortable swell running from the south and wind-driven waves from the west. Not the great sail that you always hope for, but more like a delivery trip. I arrived at the Cape Cod Canal at 0625 on Tuesday morning, when the east running current in the canal was at its maximum. As this can run up to 5 knots, I decided to anchor in the lee of the breakwater, and relax for a few hours, as I had not slept in over 24 hours, and wait for the current to turn.
I raised the anchor at 0900, and proceeded under power through the CC Canal. By the time I got closer to the west end, where the canal meets Buzzards Bay, the wind had increased to 20/25 knots (true) from the southwest. Add to this a 4 knot west-bound current pushing against the seas rolling in from the Bay, and you get an area with very high and steep and short waves. On occasion I needed the full power of the engine to keep steerage way. Lots of water on deck, both spray and green. Finally, after some four miles of this fun, I was able to set the staysail (the smallest sail on CURLEW), and proceeded to my chosen anchorage in Hadley Harbor. This is one of the loveliest anchorages in Buzzards Bay, and very well protected from the strong winds that are forecast for the next few days. I dropped anchor at 1305, 32 hours after leaving Boothbay Harbor.
While sailing towards Hadley Harbor I took some pictures of CURLEW beating into the waves, and also from a beautiful old NY50, who was flying downwind, with full mainsail and jib. (Pictures in the photo gallery)
09/04/2010, Boothbay Harbor, Maine
All preparations finished, a last beer at the Whale's Tale (and a bowl of Jack's Famous Chili), and we were ready for Earl. Fog had rolled in earlier in the evening but had dissipated soon. It was eerily calm. The rain started at 2000 and a little later I took the dinghy back to CURLEW. Around 2300 it was all heavy rain, still no wind. I woke up at 0200 this morning, and it seemed that the wind had picked up a bit, telling by the sound of the rigging. Nothing serious yet, so I thought I could get another hour's sleep before things would start for real. Next thing I woke up at 0600, and Earl was "roaring" by. I saw gusts of almost 15 (fifteen!) knots on the wind display. I wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture this event, but I managed to get one of the next strongest gust of 11.8 kn.
I wasn't going to complain if Earl turned out to be less threatening than was predicted, but an anti-climax it was, nevertheless.
09/03/2010, Boothbay Harbor, Maine
CURLEW has been on a mooring at the Carousel Marina in Boothbay Harbor for the last several days, waiting and preparing for Hurricane Earl. The latest is that Earl will pass just south of Down-East Maine, and that the Boothbay area will "only" get 35 to 50 knots of wind. But this is only a forecast. A slight deviation to the northwest and we may get stronger winds.
I took the jib and staysail down, moved all loose gear off the deck, lowered the boom on the boom gallows, and secured everything else. Later today I'll wrap a line tight around the mainsail cover and prepare my big Fortress anchor, just in case. Then ashore for a quick beer at happy hour at the Whale's Tale, and back on board before the fun starts.
It should all be over Saturday morning.
08/27/2010, Maple Juice Cove, Maine
A little too much, I'd say. For the third time Rockland did not let us go without effort. Again, we had a fouled anchor. A few years ago we first hooked an old steel hawser, and a week later, an old (?) electric or phone cable. Both we were able, with some effort, to clear. This happened in two places in the southern part of the harbor. This morning, when I raised anchor - we were in the north anchorage this time - it was firmly stuck. I had to circle around the anchor before it finally freed itself from whatever it was caught on.
Sailing was spotty today. Lots of wind shifts, moments when the wind disappeared altogether, or when the wind on deck was 45 degrees off from the direction at the mast trunk. We went through the mine field of lobster floats in this part of Maine and I was rather sailing than motoring as I pretty much can ignore floats when under sail. Ever since Kevin Bray fixed the rudder gudgeon floats have become much less of a concern. Thanks again, Kevin.
Maple Juice Cove is a nice anchorage on the St. George River. To get here from the east we took the inside route, south of Mosquito Island, around Marshall Point with its picturesque lighthouse (picture), while dodging rocky islands, stone ledges and lobster floats everywhere.
Note to self: never again anchor in Rockland without a tripping line with buoy.
08/26/2010, Rockland, Maine
Lauren and Mike joined Mary and I on CURLEW on Friday, 8/20. We explored Camden, Pulpit Harbor and Belfast, where we had drinks at the Three Tides (too many) and dinner. On Tuesday we returned to Rockland. Mary, Lauren and Mike left early Wednesday morning for the long drive back to Philadelphia and Audubon. I understand that they enjoyed the ride so much, that they made a detour to the Delaware Memorial Bridges in Delaware before returning north to Philadelphia.
After they left the weather turned with lots of wind and torrential rain. I moved CURLEW to the northern section of Rockland Harbor to get out of the swell (the southern part of the harbor is wide open to the east, but is closer to the public dinghy landing) and had just anchored when the rain started in earnest. It rained all day and night. We must have had at least 2 inches. It took me quite a while this morning to bail out the dinghy.
I visited my favorite boat store again (Hamilton Marine) and bought a new reefing line (I had to cut the old one to free up a riding turn on the reefing winch a few days ago), and also found an electric foghorn that will come in handy in the fog.
08/18/2010, Rockland, Maine
We've been motoring way too much lately. With the perfect and sunny weather that we have had recently, the wind has left - gone missing most of the time. These days, with reliable, small and powerful diesel engines, it is too easy to turn on the engine and continue at 6 or 7 knots if the wind drops below 10 knots. And there is always the excuse that the batteries needed charging anyway.
Right now I am reading Roving Commission no. 9 (the British RCC annual publication of members' logs from 1969). I love reading these older publications to remind me of how our sailing style has changed in the last 30 or 40 years. One account described how, after sailing for a few days in the fog, the skipper of a 38ft sailboat had to use an Aldis lamp to communicate with a commercial vessel to get a position. His latest sun sight was a few days old and he wanted confirmation of his DR position. Is there anyone out there who still knows how to use an Aldis lamp? Or a sextant? Another account describes how the owner of a 40ft sailboat had to rebuild the water pump of his 10hp Sabb diesel engine. A ten hp engine in a 40ft boat? Now that's an auxiliary engine. We are all motor-sailors now. Today we motor-sailed from Wooden Boat through the Fox Islands Thorofare, and did not shut the engine off until the last 6 miles to Rockland. We did sail into the anchorage, though.
08/17/2010, Wooden Boat, Maine
After shopping in the morning, we left SW Harbor around 1100 with no wind and light fog in the expectation that it would burn off later. On the contrary, once out of the harbor it shut down with no more that a few boat lengths of visibility. Radar on, fog horn at the ready, we proceeded under reduced speed looking and listening for other traffic. As this is a well-trafficked route we heard several other boats around us but avoided hitting any. Later the fog cleared and the wind picked up a bit so we were able to sail into the anchorage at Wooden Boat. Here I bought a t-shirt and a hat at the Wooden Boat store. Both our previous visits were on a Sunday when the store was closed.
This was our first fog episode this trip.