17/11/2009/8:34 am, Solomon's Island, MD
We may actually leave the dock today!
The water tanks are in; all the connections are happening as I write; the lid goes back on so our mattress doesn't fall into the hole.
We've been cleaning starling droppings off the decks regularly and will be very glad to be rid of that. Funny that there was no problem for the first 10 days and now they are dropping bombs on an hourly basis. We have sails on and flags flying so, other than an interior that still looks trashed, we are ready to go.
Weatherwise - we are experiencing a whole gamut of conditions. Big shivery winds, rain and high water (over our dock on Friday) from Wednesday to Saturday, then summer-like warmth and sunshine on Sunday and Monday - and I mean summer-like - T-shirts and shorts!!
On Sunday, Jim and I took a drive to St. Mary's City which we were surprised to discover has no downtown at all. We weren't expecting a city, but we thought there would be a village. Instead, it is composed of a recreated historic site (Historic St. Mary's City), a pretty residential area, and is home to St. Mary's College - an attractive brick campus in the middle of nowhere. Folks say it is a well regarded school, has a free outdoor concert series in the summer, and welcomes visitors to its dining room.
I spent several hours on Monday visiting the Calvert Marine Museum - just up the road from the boatyard. What a treat that was. It's a fine museum with lots of hands on areas and friendly people. In fact, I spent a good part of my visit chatting with Bud at the ticket desk, Lucy and Rose at the sandbox and the "OK to touch" tank, and Karl at the sting ray and skate tank. I never fail to be inspired by spending time with people who love what they do and are positively excited about sharing their expertise with visitors. I picked out a fossilized piece of stingray tooth (from about 24 million years ago!!!), learned a whole lot about horseshoe crabs (that don't look at all like I thought they did and are extensively used in research because of their blue blood), found out more about skates and stingrays (camouflage abilities, egg cases) and compared modern day teeth and barbs to fossilized ones. I laughed out loud at the antics of the river otters in their big tank as they swam by and then wrestled and played on their log before rolling off into the water again. Fish tanks, boat and motor displays, "Solomon's Island then and now" exhibits, and of course the well restored screwpile style Drum Point Lighthouse were also on my path through the museum.
Because of fumes from the fiberglassing yesterday, we had to call on Hackett hospitality again. We had invited them over for happy hour Monday evening, but had to call back and ask if we could go there for happy hour and stay all night! We had another rip-roaring good time with Carole, Richard and Joe - swapping stories and laughs and munching on shrimp and sausage and cheese and veggies and shrimp dip and crackers and nuts and olives and.... - a happy hour/dinner in the best of cruising traditions.
13/11/2009/8:37 am, Solomons / Lusby
We blew in Carole and Richard's door on Thursday night shaking rain off ourselves like dogs. We have had some wild weather here - like most areas along the eastern coast of the US. The water at high tide was just a couple of inches below the docks, and we had to make a mighty leap to and from Madcap's deck. It the wind wasn't blowing so hard, we'd put out our little step, but I'm afraid we'd lose it.
It has been pouring steadily for a couple of days and Little Loonie (our dinghy) had a good 8 inches of water in it. Madcap is tied up like a spider in a web - with lines to pilings on all sides. It is a good way to handle the wind - we have some movement, but no smooshing and squeaking against fenders on the docks. I guess folks are luckier around here than in some coastal areas where there has been much more flooding. One good thing about being here is that we are well protected. If we had headed out during the week, we'd be holed up somewhere else waiting out the weather so we really haven't lost all that much time.
We are absolutely delighted that the Spartite has completely eliminated leaks down our mast. We have always had water come in around the mast no matter how much I taped and wrapped it. There are a couple of other spots that need attention but basically, we are pretty dry now. We've got new glass and sealant in our butterfly hatch this year, the spartite around the mast, and the teak eyebrows along the cabin sides were taken off and re-screwed and glued so that took care of most of the culprits. Jim says no boat is completely dry and I'm not sure if he is putting me on because he'll get to fixing those other drips in his own good time or whether that is the truth!
We learned to play dice at dinner the other night - great fun. Richard and Carole are good teachers and we shared a lot of laughs. We're working on developing our own styles - one-hand rattling or two-hand shaking, wiggling of butts, whispers of encouragement and curses all seem to be in the repertoire. Jim won the first round and Richard won the second. Next time, the women will hammer them!
Friday was our road trip to Atlantic Coastal welding in Bayville, New Jersey to pick up water tanks. We decided to go get them ourselves so they'll be here for the crew to start installing them bright and early on Monday morning. It was a good day for a 10 hour round trip - windy and spitting rain - not much else to do - and even though it was Friday the 13th, we had no bad luck!! Now we can't wait to get them in place and hooked up.
On Saturday, the weather cleared just in time for the Zahniser's Annual Chili Cook-off. We were invited to attend, along with the local folks who keep their boats here, and we had a fine time - due partly to the good company of our table mates, Dan and Roxanne, and partly to the great variety of chili samples - 21 in all!! It was hard to choose, but there were some excellent pots of the hot stuff. Their entry won Most Unique - and it was not only unique, it was really yummy. They were kind enough to give us the T-shirt that was in their prize basket, so one of us will be sporting a Zahniser's shirt in the sunny south - and I'm going to try to make something close to Dan's chili too!
We spotted a great garbage truck ad the other day! The Bay Area Refuse truck had "We Cater Weddings" splashed in big letters across the back! Kind of expands my frame of reference on "catering"!
10/11/2009/12:07 pm, Solomons, MD
This cruise is off to a slow start - even though we lopped off many miles because of the slow start from Nova Scotia. On the 2007 cruise, we were plagued by a series of engine problems. This time other parts of the boat need attention.
The bad news: We thought we were all set to drop our lines and sail off early this week but we've had another gremlin pop up. As Jim was filling the water tank on Sunday, we discovered that water was running almost as fast out of the tank and into the bilge. We had been finding more water in the bilge than we used to and in hindsight, it was probably a small, slow leak that turned into a large, fast one.
We checked everything over in hopes that it was a hose or a connection but decided it must be the tank. On Monday morning, Dave (from Zahniser's) made the same check and came to the same conclusion. We have an 88 Imperial gallon tank located forward under our berth. Of course there was no easy access to it, so Dave cut away the fibreglass cover to expose the aluminum tank and found a significant split in one seam. The picture above shows the tank cut in pieces (to get it out through the companionway)
The good news: We discovered the problem here where we can get it fixed. We have ordered 2 new aluminum tanks. (2 so they will fit in, and so that in future, if we get a leak in one we will still have another tank, and if one gets tainted water it won't affect our whole water supply).
The bad news: They have to be custom made in New Jersey and that takes a week. We expect delivery by Friday - or should I say, we HOPE delivery will be Friday and then we are looking at 2 days for installation. So we will be here a while yet.
More good news: The mast was stepped this morning. Yea! Madcap looks like a sailing ship again! With one new halyard, freshly lubricated roller furling, tight rivets, a new toggle, all new mast wiring (some done at home in NS and some done here), and Spartite to prevent leaks down the mast, surely we will have no issues on this front. The new AIS works. The new propane sensor works - at least we know that so far it doesn't go beep, beep, beep even when there is no possible way there is a propane leak.
We moved back on board last night, and as much as we have enjoyed staying in a real house and sleeping in a real bed, it felt just wonderful to be back in our own cosy nest. We will do some more work on getting things back into shape as well as some touristy things over the next few days. Washington is less than 2 hours away. I'm going off to Annapolis with Carole on Wednesday while Jim attends to some chores.
Our good news items still outnumber the bad news, although all this time on a dock will seriously skew our anchorage to dockage statistics!!