Thu 9 Aug 2012
Docked at the City Dock in Annapolis, MD
[photo: someone had fun making a toy PT boat from a small runabout]
[Author's Note: I just finished reading a very interesting book titled "Cruise of the Conrad" by author Alan Villiers. With limited funds, he bought a well-used 110 foot long fully square-rigged sailing ship in 1937 and got a small crew of experienced sailors and youthful wannabes together to sail her around the world in 2 years. The story he tells can affect you on many levels, but at the least it illustrates the courage and incredible skills that the sailors of old possessed to ply the seas as they did.
What makes this particularly interesting is that the same vessel (Joseph Conrad, formerly Georg Stage) was one I toured in Mystic Seaport, CT over a month ago. At the time, I had no idea of her real history. While we were in Delaware City Marina, our visiting friend, Joan Marie, found the book in the exchange library that most marinas have and she offered it to me. It was a great read. ]
The evening passed very comfortably in the air conditioning. I will be the first to admit that although we have lived in FL for over 8 years, I (Duane) can still tolerate cold very well but have a hard time with the heat and humidity. Back before the cruise, I went from our house, to the car, to work, to the car, to home (all air conditioned), and then had the pool to jump into. Here on the boat, you have the air conditioning only while you are at a marina (expensive) and keep the hatches and boards tightly closed. Let too much humidity inside by leaving the boat open and the coils will frost up and then you have practically no air conditioning anymore.
This morning, we visited an institution in Annapolis, Chick and Ruth's Delly (yes, it is spelled that way). Not only do they serve terrific food (especially breakfasts) at good prices, but they have a long-standing ritual of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every single morning at a set time (0830 weekdays). From what we are told, all the patrons stand along with the entire staff (not sure how the cooks handle that) for the Pledge. We timed our visit to beat the rising heat, so we were gone by 0830.
Besides the food quality and Pledge, the interior is like nothing else we have seen. Most of the tables in the (small) main room are for two, yet there are two tables per booth. The partitions are such that the person adjacent in the next booth is just 12 inches away. It makes for open conversation, to be sure. The tables are quite small, too, but they have these elevated trays to hold extra napkins, sugar, seasonings, ketchup, etc. in order to keep the table surface uncluttered. Overall, it was a neat experience.
At 1100, Diane had an appointment with a hair stylist for a trim and color. She also picked up some gifts along the way. Duane was in charge of picking up a few things at the hardware store and visiting the cheese and wine shop for tonight's appetizers. It was not a good day for the credit card.
Back together on Diva Di, we sampled the cheese (out of this world, if you like richly flavorful cheeses) and a bit of hard salami and called that lunch. There were some minor boat chores, of course, but in this heat and humidity, they were mostly limited to the interior.
At 1700, Bill arrived on his scooter and delivered most of our mail and packages. Linda arrived a bit later and we enjoyed drinks and the delicious cheese and salami, plus that great bottle of wine. After many interesting conversations, we left the boat in search of a place for some sushi. We strolled up to Tsunami and each had a drink and shared 3 rolls of sushi, which was enough after the nibbles on Diva Di.
As we were nearly finished, one of the young ladies at the table adjacent came over to say they had this extra 'groupon' certificate that they could not use, so did we want it. She refused any compensation, and it turns out was worth $40. Our net cost was then about $3, plus the tip. Bill kept saying, Annapolis sure is a friendly town!
When we walked back, it was downhill and a lot cooler. We even sat in the cockpit of the boat to enjoy the nice breeze and the good music coming from Pusser's across the canal. We said our goodbyes and will enjoy seeing them more back in Punta Gorda, FL in the fall.
Tomorrow, our friends, Ed and Shirley arrive for a 2 night visit. They are staying in a hotel and we will spend much of the day and a half with them.
Wed 8 Aug 2012
Docked at the City Dock in Annapolis, MD
[photo: one of many small, historic homes in the downtown area of Annapolis]
It was a pretty comfortable night but the fans were needed all night long; there was no breeze at all. We had been pretty fortunate with foregoing the screens for quite a while since we got up north, but in the middle of the night, Diane was awakened by mosquitos, so the screens went in.
Today began a (as yet) mystery surrounding our 12V electrical system and accessories. The first clue was that our E-meter registered minus 65 Amp-hours (not overly surprising considering the use of fans, TV, stereo, etc.) but the battery voltage with the refrigerator running was only 12.1. That is pretty low. Had I turned off all the loads and waited a little while, I am sure it would have been much higher, maybe 12.4 or so, but that is just a guess. I made a mental note to monitor it closely.
Getting out of the anchorage at 0750 proved easy, despite the thick fog and visibility of only 100 yards. I chose a slightly different path this time and never saw the very shallow depths of yesterday, even though it was low tide. The passage was very boring with no wind to sail, but at least the ride was smooth and the visibility rose to several miles in short order.
In Annapolis harbor, we got diesel fuel and then went to the City Dock. Not getting any response from multiple hails on their working channel, we picked a slip and pulled right in. Within minutes a young dockhand came by, said that slip was fine, and took our info and payment. We wasted no time in plugging in the air conditioning. An hour later, even though the cooling water is flowing normally and the duct is blowing cold air, the cabin was still 86F.
Duane started working on more electrical issues regarding charging of the many DC-powered devices, and Diane got a phone call that Jan and Gina had to cancel their visit due to the threat of severe thunderstorms rolling through their area and ours on Fri. We understand their concerns and will have to deal with the disappointment.
We also made plans with Bill and Linda (native Annapolis people who winter in our home town of Punta Gorda, FL) to get together tomorrow evening for happy hour and appetizers. They will be bringing the shipment of mail we ordered sent to them, as well as a shipment of books for Diane from Jan.
Dinner was hamburgers, yellow squash, and fresh tomato. It was simple, yet satisfying. After cleaning up, we went to the shoreside showers with our tokens to get presentable. When the temperature went down a little, and the humidity was still bad, we took a slow stroll down Dock Street to the Dock Street Bar and Grill for a cold drink and some Olympics on TV. Then we walked up and down a few of the nearby streets and surveyed all the historic homes we passed. It is certainly a charming city, along with the inevitable shortage of parking and narrow roads and sidewalks.
Back at Diva Di, we fixed a nightcap. We tried to sit in the cockpit with the music from Pusser's Caribbean Grille, just across the narrow canal, floating across the water. Diane was able to tough out the humidity, but Duane was a sodden mess of perspiration within minutes and so went below to the air conditioning.
Our current plans are to have our visit with Bill and Linda Thu evening, then visit with PA friends, Ed and Shirley on Fri and Sat, and then depart Sun morning. Where we go next depends on the availability of our other friends (Harvey and Sara) who homeport their boat in Oxford, MD.
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.