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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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How many days in New Jersey
dismal
09/26/2008, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Everything feels so damp, cold and wet. I need to remember to investigate replacement gaskets for the windows. I've got drips all over the place from the rains pelting the boat. One good thing, my windows are no longer salt covered J. The latest news on the weather systems we were watching - the one on us yesterday was never named (it should have been too - all you needed to do was look at the weather map and you could see it was a depression at least) feels like it's past us finally and it sounds like we have tropical storm Kyle off Bermuda that's trying to become a hurricane heading up the coast. Another low is riding up that looks like it will intersect Kyle so I'm not sure when we'll get to leave here. I wasn't far off when I was joking about "a week in Jersey" I guess. I decided that I needed to make cinnamon rolls this morning - it will heat up the boat and make it smell good too LOL. I think that the alcohol stove and I are making friends little by little. It just takes time for it to come up to speed and as long as I don't require a great amount of heat - hey, we'll get used to each other LOL. I noticed Skip and Lydia were up top when I was hanging out our wet, salty clothes to rinse in the rain this morning and after the cinnamon rolls came out of the oven waved at them to pick up the radio, and invited them over for rolls and grapes. I couldn't figure out how to invite them for coffee because we only had 2 cups but Skip was saying he was brewing his second cup so I told him they could bring them over here so that worked out well. My rolls were a little over done but I really enjoyed having them over and chatting with them. We're the only 2 boats that stayed at anchor through this mess - don't know where everyone else went but now I noticed that the single handler is back and anchored behind us this evening. I felt bad for him the other morning. He was up all night and up top a lot during that awful weather in the morning too before taking off. Since he's back he probably picked up a mooring here for last nights 2nd round of weather.

Ahhhh, clean hair again! After Lydia & Skip took off I washed my hair. The pump to drain the water out of the tub wouldn't work (if it's not one thing it's another) so Wayne took that apart and fixed it, then decided to bleed the accumulator pump to the water pump so that it would be more efficient. Next was to fix the chain back to the windlass (we had all 200 ft of chain out during the "un-named weather system that roared through here for 2 days), gas up the generator and move on to dinner. During dinner we heard the bilge pump kick on and thought it was just an accumulation from all the rain. It kept kicking on and off which was unusual so to ease my mind, Wayne had to lift up the floorboards again to show me it was dry but I kept hearing a trickle. On further investigation it looked like we had a small river running from the pump into the bilge. Some plastic fitting was broken and the water from our water tank was slowly draining out. We managed to get that pinched off and so far the bilge pump hasn't kicked back on since we stopped our fresh water leak. Hopefully tomorrow the water will stay calm enough for us to run into town to the hardware and see if they have a replacement part or we'll be toting water in plastic containers again! It's been rainy/foggy/drizzly today but fairly calm... hardly a ripple to be seen after watching waves with ripples blowing over other waves with ripples, it seems quite eerie with the fog.

Hey Jersey!!!!
Still nasty - aren't they supposed to name tropical depressions?
09/25/2008, NJ LOL

It stayed nasty and blowing all day, (basically a continuation of last night) but it wasn't as scary in the daylight. [Did you ever notice that given the same situation in the day it just doesn't seem as bad as when you're in the dark? It reminded me of home when the tornado warnings would come. During the day - you can always face them better than when they come at night and you can't see them.] The winds kept up and ranged from 25 - 35 with gusts up to 45 and we were straining at the anchors. I say anchors because after coffee we set another anchor after hearing the forecast calling for Gale Warnings and more of the same with seas outside the bay calling for 8-13 ft. Seeing some of the waves come over the breakwater, experiencing the waves and winds last night, dragging anchors thoughout the anchor area, and gale warnings, convinced us to put out another anchor at 45 degrees to the first. We also decided to turn on the anchor alarm (on the chart plotter) as another precaution but I doubted that I'd be able to hear it over the wind, the rigging noise and the waves slamming the boat. Today was just nasty and this evening when I tried to sleep in the V-berth it was just toooo slamming, so I came out to the main cabin and tried to sleep there. It started to let up a little after 2:00am and Wayne went to bed, but I stayed in the main cabin just in case the anchor alarm went off (so I could hear it). It's Friday morning and there's a beautiful red glow where the sun should be coming up. Time to make coffee...

Hey Jersey
Sunny, nice, windy, poopy
09/24/2008, NJ (where else)

Started out nice and sunny again, but breezy. The weather reports are still reporting tropical disturbances and Gale warnings on the coastal area so we're still going to be here for a couple more days. We checked our battery and knew it needed recharging (as always). When we went to start the motor, to charge the battery, all it did was go bzzzz, bzzzz, whirrrrr, whirrrr... not a good way to start the day. Tore the stuff out of the battery compartment, then into the engine room (dog house). Spent most of the morning diagnosing what it could be. After rewiring all the rewiring, we moved on to the starter. After Wayne gave the solenoid a few whacks and a few choice words, it started varooom.... During the course of our investigation, Wayne discovered what we intuitively already knew... The starting battery wasn't hooked up to the starter... Fixed that, then put the boat back together. After a break, we then got the dingy in the water to go into town and pick up some groceries. Chatted a few minutes with Skip in the dingy, got directions on where to park the dingy, and where the stores were, then rode over to the dingy dock and walked into town. Skip had offered us the use of the car that he had access to (so very generous) but we felt funny about accepting it because if anything happened he'd be in dutch with his brother (I think it was his car).

What a pleasant surprise. They have a nice little park and senior citizens building right on the park. There was a group of kindergarteners (or preschoolers) there with their teachers doing a running broad jump for a foot or so. It was so cute to watch them - they were so excited as the teachers cheered them on and applauded as they leapt over that one-foot line.

The walk down 1st Ave was really nice. They have a lot of older buildings here and stores that reminded me of the old "Plum Street" in Detroit. Nice little unique shops, along with a hardware, marine store, movie place, lots of little restaurants, etc... Some of the sidewalks had intricate brickwork designs and I was really regretting leaving my camera on the boat!

The grocery store was a "Super Food Town". This is a store I haven't been to before. One note for my lady friends (and males that like discounts): A lot of these stores have their own discount cards. If you don't have one, you don't get the sale or discounted prices. Therefore, check before you go to the checkout, at the service desk - if they have a discount card. If so, fill out the form and get your card. I now have 3 different ones in my possession and am going to have to get a special coupon tote or something to keep them in, for shopping excursions. Then when I get to a store that I already have a card, I get the discounts and don't need to fill out another card. Hey those of you that remember S&H Green Stamps - Food Town has S&H Green Points! Those that don't remember - if you spend x amount of money, you earn x amount of points that give you bonus dollars off your next shopping trip - you can save them or spend them...

Got pop & food and headed back towards the marina. Man that bag got heavier and heavier. We used the bag Steph got me a few years ago (a very large, sturdy canvas one that we've used in the past for just such occasions). With the pop in it (2-12 packs) plus food on top, we had to keep switching sides (Wayne had one handle, I the other). We passed a police officer that gave us the strangest look, and a good Samaritan that pulled over and asked "do you need a ride back to the marina"? We should have said YES, but said No thanks - we need the exercise, even though we had to stop every 100 feet or so to switch arms (yes I have wussie wrists) LOL.

Once we got back to the dingy, and loaded it, the excitement began... The winds had steadily increased while we were in town (which we enjoyed - while walking). We were at the farthest point in the marina where the ferries come in, which was a little over a mile, downwind, down fetch from where we were anchored. Imagine if you will, waves rolling at you, while sitting in a flat, rubber dingy, with a blunt front end, the wind blowing against you, pushing the salty, wave spray into your face. Brisk, huh? Now imagine that salty wave spray turning into buckets being splashed into your face, all over your clothing, food, etc... for about a mile ride. At first Wayne went fast, but the waves came rolling at us. Then Wayne went slower, the waves kept rolling us. I had to keep wiping the saltwater out of my eyes and blowing out of my mouth. By the time we reached the boat, we were two drowned rats, smiling and waving at Flying Pig's guests as we passed by. Don't know who she was, but I figured might as well act like we're having fun!!! It took a couple of tries to actually make it to the ladder and then we had to unload that humongous bag, from the dingy to the back of the boat, because we couldn't lift it - especially now that it had salt water added to the contents. And as we all know, salt water is dense as well as salty (yum).

From the back of the boat, we pounced down the stairs leaving a salty trail of wet clothes to the bathroom, then wet salty food to the frig. Remind me not to salt the food... I made salmon burgers for dinner and we polished off the (salty) French loaf that we bought from the grocery store. I guess you can now really call us a couple of old salts. I can suck on my hair and it tastes salty - yum... Wayne says it still needs pepper though LOL

Cold, wet, salty, and that should have been the end of the day, right? Wrong... After going to bed, the wind and waves were still were growing. The high-pressure system from the north and north east was being met by the low coming up from the south and the boat really began dancing on its anchor. We checked on it at 10:00, 12:00, and at 1:45 we noticed that we were dragging a bit and getting closer to Flying Pig, so hoisted anchor and reset it (no small feat in the dark bucking the waves and wind). Then stayed up top until 4 am to make sure we were okay and didn't drag. It looked like Skip & Lydia had let out some scope in their chain because they got farther away. We figured that it was now safe to go back to bed, there was no chance of dragging into them now. Not long after I saw an anchor light streaking past my port window and sprang up thinking oh my god - we're dragging. But it was Skip and Lydia circling us. They must have decided to re-anchor also or were dragging when we thought they had let out scope. The single handler was also up most the night, dragging and resetting and staying up top to care for his boat, the trawler and aluminum boat were also up. I used the trawler's position under a light on the hill most of the morning to make sure we weren't dragging. Several cups of tea, and hot spiced cider kept the chill partially at bay, and it's now 6:30 am and I'm starting a pot of coffee... Longggg day....

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