Sailing Gromit

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From Norfolk to the Chesapeake

30 July 2009
On Monday morning, we left Norfolk, Virginia, around 7:30am to head north into the Chesapeake Bay. The tide was with us, but not the wind. For the most part of the morning, we were pounding into the waves. Michael considered heading into Hampton and continuing the following day. I wanted to stay on course. We were, after all, on our way to a marina, so I was anxious to get there. Moving from place to place, day after day, is very tiring and the relief of a month at a marina kept me going. On top of that, we were traveling with Sea Gypsy and Shiver, who both had been to the bay we were heading to and knew where they were going. We arrived around 4pm, at high tide. The channel into the creek is quite shallow, so it was necessary to enter it at high tide, especially for Shiver, as they have a 7'9" draft.

Our first job was to find out who could accommodate us with our 6 foot draft. We anchored out for a few nights until we had checked out all the marinas in the area. We chose our present marina, because it offered the most at a good cost. On Wednesday July 1, around just after noon, we pulled into our slip for what we thought would be about a month.

Here, we have the use of a courtesy car, bicycles, a screen enclosed porch to BBQ and eat in, a small lounge with a phone and television (and a million channels!), a pool, swings for the kids - and adults too, I guess! - a large grassy, treed area for the kids to run and play and other kids for Zoe, Maia and Liam to play with. Nearby is a fantastic library. But, most importantly, the marina had a good feeling about it.

We settled in and began getting ready for our trip to Canada. The event: Michael's mom's 85th birthday. The surprise: she didn't know we were coming. I love surprises!

On Thursday July 2, we went to a nearby town to pick up a rental car and Friday morning we were off. I had hoped we would leave early, but we didn't. After three trips back to the boat for forgotten things, passports among them, we were really off! It was a 14 hour drive plus stops. We arrived at Ollie's (Michael's sister), between 2:30 and 3:00am Saturday morning.

Even though we were very tired, the excitement of surprising Baba, was so strong that we were out of bed early. What a moment when she saw us walk into Ollie's kitchen. It took her a few seconds to register and then her mouth fell open. It was perfect!

We had a great weekend. It was very nice to see family again. The kids loved playing with their big cousins, especially cousin Mark. Cousin Katya came and the girls played for hours.

The 'plan', and I have to laugh when I say that word, because the meaning of the word has certainly changed since the beginning of this trip.
The 'plan' was to find a marina, leave the boat and drive to Canada for a week or so and then return to the boat to build a dodger (a frame covered in canvas that keeps water, mostly waves, from splashing the person navigating and to stop water from going below through the companionway). Michael ordered a do-it-yourself kit. We were hoping that we could finish it before the end of July and then go exploring on the Chesapeake Bay.

On the drive to Canada, Michael mentioned that he might call work to see if they have some work for him; one day a week, work from the boat, sort of work. On Monday, two days after arriving in Canada, he did call work. On Tuesday he connected with his boss, on Wednesday he went into the office for a couple of hours to talk and on Thursday he started a four month stint.

What was I saying about plans and change? I have spent the last 9 months fighting and being frustrated by the constant changes that seem to be a part of the cruising lifestyle. Now, though, I'm seeing change in a different light. I've always enjoyed spontaneity and by shifting the way I see change, I'm beginning to feel a sort of excitement in it.

We spent time in Peterborough with Astrid and family - a great, but much too short visit. We went to the sale barn, where local farmers bring their livestock to auction. Astrid bought 4 little piggies. They'll be goin' to market in the fall! On the way back to the farm, we stopped at our favourite cheese factory for ice cream and a rare treat of very fresh cheese curds. They were the kind that made your teeth squeak. Yum!

Our final days were spent with Baba in St Catharines. She fed us our favourite borscht and perogies. With stores so near, we stocked up on some items that are impossible to find in the States: canned baked beans cooked with maple syrup and no pork, Dimpfelmeyer's sunflower rye bread and almond butter.

We set off at around 6:30 am on Monday, from St Catharines and arrived about10:30 pm. It was a good drive. The rental car came with a GPS. What a pleasure. It told me every turn I had to make. It made the drive so much easier.

We had left the boat in a bit of a mess. Once we got it a little tidied, we unloaded the car and made it a mess again. Then we tidied it up again!
We were supposed to have strong winds, so I tidied all loose things on the deck of the boat.
My life seems to revolve around tidying!

Things are finally getting under control, though, and that is a good feeling.
We do school every weekday morning, and if possible, we do a 'swimming pool' recess. After lunch, we borrowed the marina's car to grocery shop, or bicycle to the library. Most times, we stay here doing boat jobs and swimming in the pool.

Michael has had me busy with a list of jobs that needed to be done on the boat. So far, I have put biocide into the fuel tank and run the recirculation pump, removed and cleaned the fridge's water cooled pump strainer, changed the fresh water pre-filter and reset the fridge temperature limits.

Next, I'm going to go up the mast to measure how much farther the mainsail can be winched up in the mainsail track. We want to raise our boom crutch, (a boom crutch holds the boom safely above our heads, when it is not being used). The crutch is too low at present and it causes Michael to have to stoop over while at the wheel. Michael will sketch the crutch extension and I'll take the drawings to two companies I have contacted to quote the job.

I've also been getting quotes on a new dodger. Michael and I had planned to build one ourselves, with a kit from Sailrite. Plans change. I'm here, he's there - no homemade dodger.

The mainsail measurement needs to be done soon, because I have to take all the sails off and stow them below decks. This is a safety precaution for when strong winds blow. If a tropical storm is forecast, Gromit will be hauled out of the water, so everything loose or anything that can catch wind must be removed.

It was busy while we were underway and it is busy while sitting in a marina. No chance of boredom any time soon.
Comments
Vessel Name: Gromit
Vessel Make/Model: Olympic Adventure
Hailing Port: Toronto
Crew: Michael, Cornelia, Zoe, Maia, Liam. Photo: At Tilloo Bank, Elbow Cay, Bahamas (photo by Frank Taylor)
About: Michael: The technical/mechanical/all about the boat and systems guy. Cornelia: The lists/house and land details gal. Zoe, Maia and Liam: Gromit's Skippers in Training!
Extra: Departure date: Summer 2008 email us at: [email protected]
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Sailinggromit

Who: Michael, Cornelia, Zoe, Maia, Liam. Photo: At Tilloo Bank, Elbow Cay, Bahamas (photo by Frank Taylor)
Port: Toronto