Tue 7 Aug 2012
Anchored in Fairlee Creek, MD
We debated about sleeping on the deck last night, but finally decided on the interior of the boat. It seemed just a little hot at first, so Duane slept in the main cabin with a fan blowing directly on him, which spared Diane in the V-berth from having his furnace-like body in close proximity. By midnight or so, it was comfortably cool and the fans were turned off.
After a lazy early morning aboard, we got underway (against the current) for Fairlee Creek, about 25 statute miles away. This will allow us to have another easy 25 mile run to Annapolis on Wed. Clyde often likes to crawl into the aft cabin and lie far aft on some soft goods. Diane is getting tired of trying to coax him out of there before we start the engine, so today we simply started the engine and when Diane counted down from 3, there he was moving to his now favored spot under the table in the main cabin.
There was nothing exciting about the 4.5 hour run; we had light wind at our back, so it was not useable for sailing. The current was slightly against us most of the way, too, so our average speed was not even 6 mph. The entrance to Fairlee Creek is tricky, but it is well marked. The only concerning thing was seeing 5.5 feet of depth in the approach when the tide was supposedly up 1.5 feet above datum. That means at low tide we could not get through at all. The tidal predictions show that we should be able to just squeak by after 0800 tomorrow.
After Diane served a very tasty lunch, we relaxed a bit, made tentative plans for our next several stops, and then put the dinghy into the water. Duane cleaned up the dinghy a bit (where does all this dirt come from?), and then lolled in the water at the swim ladder with a cool beverage. The water was about 84F and very comfortable, but it was very murky and not all that appealing. Afterwards, he used the stern shower to soap up and rinse off. It was the first time we had really done this (I say 'we' because Diane came over and actually put all 10 toes into the water) in a while.
By 1600, we were done reading and ready to dinghy over to the marina to have a drink and some appetizers. We got there, had trouble finding where the dinghy dock was, and eventually found it only to be told that they have two eateries (one restaurant and one Tiki Bar) but that neither was open except Fri-Sun. Oh, well. We have a great happy hour and restaurant aboard Diva Di, except there is no air conditioning at anchor.
We did have some light snacks and then later pan-seared a salmon filet, re-heated the last of the incredibly good corn, and added some of our friend's home-grown tomato. It was plenty and delicious. Cooking in the galley (we have no grill for this trip) does add considerable, if temporary, heat to the interior, but once you are done and sitting quietly in front of the fan, it is quickly forgotten.
The rest of the early evening was pleasant enough, depending upon your perspective. Diane did not care for the loud antics of one boat, but otherwise it was pretty nice. By 2100, the sun had set and some bugs had come out, so we retreated below.
It will be another night of hoping for relief from the combination of temperature and humidity so we can sleep comfortably. As expensive as it will be, it looks like we will be at a dock for 4-5 days in Annapolis so we can stay cool enough and enjoy all the visits with friends that are planned.
Mon 6 Aug 2012
Anchored in Bohemia River, MD
Thanks to the air conditioning, we had a very comfortable night's sleep. The morning's temperature was moderate, but the humidity was still very high. Fortunately, the wind shifted to the NW and then NE bringing cooler and drier air. We used the relatively cool comfort in the boat to get some chores done.
Diane started the laundry in the nice facilities while Duane made a delicious vinegar and oil salad with the fresh garden tomatoes and cucumbers from Joan Marie (adding chopped onion and cannellini beans). We shucked the fresh corn we got with Rich and Brenda a few days ago and peeled the fresh shrimp to boil for tonight's supper. We filled the water tanks and hosed off the leaves and debris blown onto the boat from last evening's brief storm. We both took showers (the women's shower being luxurious by comparison to the men's) and watched some Olympics coverage on the boat.
By 1000 it was time for a stroll along the nice waterfront walk with a circle back through the small downtown area. We saw a little outdoor, elevated cat enclosure with a sign indicating "Stumpy" in front of a pet grooming shop. It was empty and we asked aloud where Stumpy was; with that utterance we heard a series of conversational meows and there behind us was this charcoal gray cat with a tail about 4 inches long. I guess we found out where Stumpy was.
We picked up Diane's fix of Diet Coke at the local grocery store and then walked back to the marina. We carried the laundry, soda, and a few more gallons of drinking water back to Diva Di and relaxed in the air conditioning with the Olympics on TV. During the morning, Diane closed the loop with some other friends, Shirley and Ed, who will also be coming down to visit while we are in Annapolis.
Knowing the tidal current was just barely against us and due to turn in our favor soon, we left the dock and headed out the long channel and then down the upper Delaware Bay a few miles to the C & D canal. We have noted that the predictions for the time the current flow will shift are just approximate, so it was not a big surprise that we motored into the very light wind for an hour before we actually got any benefit from the current. It was an uneventful trip through the 16 miles of canal with little boat traffic. It was a warm day, but cruising on the boat allowed us to have about 7-10 mph of breeze in our face to stay comfortable.
By 1700, less than 4 hours after starting, we reached our intended anchorage at the mouth of the Bohemia River, just a half mile off the channel. Being a Mon night, we were spared too much boat traffic with the annoying wakes. Normally, you choose an anchorage to shield you partially from the expected winds. In our case, with the wind forecast for very light NW winds overnight, we anchored to allow us maximum exposure to those winds.
Supper tonight was the shrimp we cooked this morning. It was just chilled with cocktail sauce, and we added fresh corn, and a home-grown tomato from Joan Marie. The shrimp was good, but the corn and tomato were excellent! It was a bit warm in the boat since the current was keeping the boat sideways to the wind and the hatches were not getting much airflow. Our instrument records the water temperature as 85F. That is great if you like to swim in warm water, but it tends to keep the boat near that temperature, too.
By 2000, the few boats passing by had disappeared and all was very quiet. As the sun set, though, the wind also diminished. No solar radiation - good, but no cooling breeze - bad. Considering how hot it is for those in the cities of this area right now, we feel blessed to be relatively comfortable.
Tomorrow we leave for our last stop before Annapolis. It remains to be seen exactly where we will decide to stop after considering all the factors.
Sun 5 Aug 2012
Docked at Delaware City, DE
[photo: Alan and Joan Marie with Diane in the main cabin escaping the storm]
We enjoyed a very comfortable night with the breeze at a good speed for cooling, despite the oppressive heat of the day. By 0530, Duane was up to get ready for the day. Diane got up by 0630 and we weighed anchor 20 minutes later. The previous evening, Duane had mentioned that he thought we would be in Delaware City by around 1400 to meet Alan and Joan Marie, but when he really thought about it, that was a 7 hour run to make 64 statute miles, an average speed we had never come close to reaching.
Our anchorage location allowed us to start directly on course without having to navigate out of a long inlet or channel. The wind was somewhat light on a port broad reach (over our left shoulder), but it definitely helped us along. The current was helping, too, but only about half a knot at first, so we were making 6.5 knots in the beginning. With each mile north, the current was increasing and so was the wind strength. We steadily increased speed and the 7 knot speeds gave way to 8, and later 9 knots!
At one point, our AIS receiver alerted us that a large commercial vessel was approaching from astern in the nearby shipping channel. We were very surprised when the Captain hailed us on the VHF radio to ask our intentions. It was a prudent thing to do, but extremely rare, and we replied that we would parallel the shipping channel but give him a wide berth. He was grateful to learn this and said he would try to get by us quickly. I chuckled to myself because he was making 13 knots against our 8.5 at that time and the AIS calculated it would take over 35 minutes for him to get next to us.
The wind built to almost 22 knots, but with us moving at almost 9 much of the time, it only felt like 13 knots. The predicted currents were about 2 knots at their peak, and by 1300, we were averaging 8.5 miles per hour. The only drawback is that the autopilot could not hold the course well with the following seas, so I hand steered for the last 4 hours. It was a pleasure to be rocketing along so it was not really work.
By 1400, just over 7 hours after departure, we were waving to Joan Marie at the park overlooking the channel entrance after furling the sails and turning into the marina fairway. The current in the fairway can be fierce, but it was near slack and we had a strong headwind, so the docking was easy. Duane quickly got off the boat with his shower gear and change of clothes to clean up. Back at the boat after paying, Diane took her turn after we called our friends. I met Joan Marie and Alan and brought them to Diva Di and then Diane joined us shortly thereafter.
We had a great time reminiscing about all the fun things we had together over the 20 plus years. It made sense to have an early dinner, so we went to Kathy's Seafood a few blocks away. The night's special was all you can eat crabs for $19.95, but none of us wanted to fuss with that, so we ordered various entrees and enjoyed it all.
There were serious black clouds in the western sky, so we got quickly back to the boat, got below and buttoned up before the rain hit. We had more great chatter amongst old friends and then it was time for them to leave for their almost 2 hour drive home. We are very lucky to have such good friends and hope we can spend many more years sharing good times together.
The television reception is surprisingly good here, so we watched the Olympics for an hour or so, and then called it a night. Tomorrow, we will leave later in the day with a fair current through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and be in the Chesapeake Bay once again.
Sat 4 Aug 2012
Anchored off Lewes, DE
[photo: Rich and Brenda's family visitation]
We left the marina after a restful night in the air conditioning and an hour of boat cleaning and other chores. The current was with us through the Cape May canal and we exited in short order on the W side in the Delaware Bay. The wind direction allowed us to motor-sail for most of the way, but then we had to furl the sail and motor into the wind.
Along the way, I checked in with the marina where we planned to stay and every possible space was filled. Our recourse was to anchor on the W side of the breakwater (formidable rock structure) from where the Cape May - Lewes ferries dock. That was very easy and we got ourselves reorganized after the 4 hour passage.
We called our friends, Rich and Brenda, and told them we would be ready around 1430 for pickup near the city dock. That entailed running the dinghy 2.5 miles W from Diva Di parallel to the beach, then intoa the Roosevelt Inlet, then 2.5 miles E in the canal to the dock. It took over 35 minutes, but Rich and Brenda were waiting for us and we got tied up with the permission of the dockmaster at the city dock.
We drove to the grocery store, liquor store, and produce stand to get our provisions, along with a few stops for Rich and Brenda to get the dinner. We got to their lovely home near Rehoboth Bay and were very impressed with how nice it was. Even better, we got to meet their son, Mike, and his lovely wife, Pam, and two of their children, Charlene and Brendan. They were all absolutely delightful to get to know and we are grateful for the opportunity.
The dinner was served in courses: nachos followed by steamed shrimp, then steamed clams, then creamy crab soup and corn on the cob and crab cakes. We shucked the corn at Rich's Tiki Bar with a view of the bay and it was very nice. Oh, did I mention that this lasted over 3 hours and that in between some of the courses, we took a tour in their golf cart of the beautiful grounds?
After a lot of interesting conversation and way too much good food and beverage, we had to say our goodbyes and return to the dock by 1900. By the time we got loaded up in the dinghy and got back to Diva Di, it was 10 minutes past sunset. We had adequate light for the excursion, and all went well.
Back aboard, we tended to the neglected cat, Clyde, who vociferously indicated his displeasure with our 6 hour absence, and then relaxed in the cockpit. At first, the high humidity and our activity level had us hot and sweating, but when we were sitting still in the cockpit with the perfect breeze, it was quite delightful.
We got a call from our friends, Alan and Joan Marie, before bedtime and they plan to drive to Delaware City tomorrow to visit with us for a few hours.
Fri 3 Aug 2012
Docked in Cape May, NJ
We were not supposed to be docking at a marina today, but events conspired to make that a wise choice. But, let's start at the beginning. We had a wonderfully restful night aboard with cooling winds that exceeded the forecast in a good way. Weighing the anchor at 0645 was easy enough, but the chain was coated in thick, black mud. Luckily, we have a wash-down hose in the anchor locker.
The current was against us exiting the anchorage and the inlet, but we were not prepared to leave before dark, nor delay all morning before leaving with a fair current. We got out to the ocean in 35 minutes; far slower than the 18 minutes it took to come in with the current behind us. After turning onto course, we were faced with much larger and more uncomfortable waves than we anticipated for the forecast wind conditions. It may have to do with the very shallow depths even miles from shore.
What was worse than the discomfort was the fact that the waves were slowing us down considerably, and the wind was on the nose with no chance for it to help. The Captain was concerned that the 30% slower speed would erase our fuel reserves and put us close to empty upon arrival. It was a somewhat tense 7 plus hours with that weighing on his mind. Despite the fact that we should not be in that predicament, rest assured there were many contingency plans being worked.
We were blessed with good weather in that the sun was out and there were no storms in sight. By 1400, we had the inlet in sight and the engine was still purring. When we turned in, we had the wind off our port quarter and the course to the marina would be essentially reachable under sail alone, if absolutely needed in case of an engine failure. We navigated the very shallow water at a negative tide (below normal datum), barely scraping the bottom, and finally got to the fuel dock.
To our great surprise, the 25 gallon tank took only 20.4 gallons to fill. I guess we now know that when the gauge reads E, we still have almost 4 gallons, although we do not know how many of those are useable. We hope never to get that close to fuel exhaustion again, I can tell you.
We had plans for an early afternoon arrival to drop the anchor, followed by getting the bikes ashore by dinghy, and then going for an early dinner at the Jackson Mountain restaurant. Those plans were not looking good. We were pretty exhausted from the constant motion of the boat in the waves, and the tension of the fuel supply issue, so we decided to take a slip at the marina where we fueled up.
We got the boat tied up, got the electric plugged in for the air conditioning in the suddenly oppressive heat, had a beverage and decided to forget the bikes and the Jackson Mountain restaurant. We elected to stroll 300 yards to the Lobster House and eat at the Raw Bar. Our crab soup was excellent, the crab cake was decent, and the mussels in garlic wine sauce were quite good. The calamari was so-so, but overall we had a decent meal for a reasonable price and there was no cooking or clean-up required by us.
On the way back from supper, our dock mates introduced themselves, Gary and Susan, from NE Florida. They took their new to them trawler N from the Fernandina Beach area all the way up the rivers to Canada and are now on their way back. We just may see them again as we head south.
Tomorrow, we leave to go through the Cape May canal and then head to Lewes, DE to meet our friends, Rich and Brenda. Rich and Duane used to work for the same company as mechanical engineers back in the early 80s. They have been renting a place near our home in Florida every winter, so we get together down there. Now, we can visit them in their summer home in DE.
It will be a very early bedtime tonight. We are luxuriating in the air conditioning and will leave tomorrow around 0800 for what we hope will be a nice 4 hour passage.
Thu 2 Aug 2012
Anchored near Atlantic City, NJ
[photo: Captain and Clyde resting on the passage while Diane has the helm]
We had a very quiet night that was perfect in almost all respects. Duane slept in the main cabin to take advantage of a little better airflow through the hatches, while Diane stayed in the V-berth, and Clyde alternated between the two. It was after 0700 when we awoke and the light was streaming in with nary a cloud in the sky. It will be a great beach day for Diane.
Diane enjoyed the cockpit with Clyde while Duane plotted distances, tidal currents, and passage timing for the next week or so. Then we switched places and Diane did her daily housekeeping while Duane was banished to the cockpit so he wasn't "underfoot." We got ready for the beach by 1000 and set out in the dinghy to first explore the extents of Brigantine Bay. It is a really nice little spot for homeowners, and the anchorage is great, but there is no place to land a dinghy or get access to a dock, even though at one end is a nice shopping center with groceries, drug store, etc.
After our exploration, we landed the dinghy right at Rum Point with the current ripping through at 3 knots or more. There were very significant whirlpools at the edge where the currents intersected. With a falling tide, we didn't have too much concern with the dinghy, although we set the anchor anyway. The little section of beach must be packed with people on a weekend, but at 1030 on a Thu there were only a dozen or so. By 1200, that increased threefold at least. People were beaching boats as big as 26 feet to enjoy the 80F water and the firm sand under a blazing bright blue sky.
We came back to Diva Di for lunch around 1230 and then Duane brought Diane back to the beach and he returned to the boat. Too much lying in the sun doesn't work for him. Diane phoned a few hours later for pick up and we were back aboard the boat to finish our day of relaxation. After reading our novels, a short nap was in order.
We both were not all that keen on going out at night for supper in the dinghy across that inlet with its rushing current, so we agreed that another meal aboard would be fine. Being on Diva Di in this tranquil anchorage with the wind blowing a nice 10 knots for cooling comfort under the gorgeous blue sky is delightful, so why not just enjoy it. The plan is to ride our bikes in Cape May tomorrow and re-visit the Jackson Mountain restaurant for an early supper; this was where we had such delicious lunches on our last visit.
Supper was bratwurst, grilled onions, and the last of the fresh broccoli. We will need to pick up a few food and beverage items in Cape May. We watched the full moon rise with a decidedly reddish hue; it was very pretty. The weather forecast was pretty accurate today, but the wind speed was a little higher which gave us a nice cooling effect through the night.