05 August 2009 | Lexington, MA
11 July 2009 | Prudence Island, RI
29 June 2009 | Atlantic City, NJ
18 June 2009 | Great Bridge, Chesapeake VA
05 June 2009 | Charleston, SC
25 May 2009 | Cocoa Beach, FL
21 May 2009 | Lake Worth, FL
14 May 2009 | North Palm Beach, FL
09 May 2009 | Key West, FL
06 May 2009 | Conch Republic
25 April 2009 | Key West, FL
17 April 2009 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
17 April 2009 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
14 April 2009 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
12 April 2009 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
11 April 2009 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
08 April 2009 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
I Guess the Party is Over
21 August 2009
I've been putting off writing because I'm afraid this may herald the end of the line...
So... as of August 5th we were out of the water and the hull was being stripped. It is now August 20th and guess what? We are still out of the water.
In the last blog post I wrote that the re-paint the bottom had turned into "power-wash, inspect, UH-OH, strip to gelcoat (sandblast), reseal & apply new barrier coat, repaint"
The "Uh-Oh" upon inspection was the appearance of a few "cosmetic" blisters. For the uninitiated, a blister on a boat is, well, what it sounds like. Water being absorbed through the gelcoat and fiberglass laminates in the hull causes blisters. Once thought impervious to water, it has been discovered that constant contact with water can cause it to be absorbed through the gelcoat. The water absorbed causes changes in the physical makeup of the hull and reacts with the resins, which build up residues and finally raise blisters by increased pressure on voids between the laminate and the gelcoat.
The process of stripping the bottom revealed more blisters than we originally thought, and, unfortunately, many of them were more than "cosmetic." When we first got the news tears welled up in my eyes. I felt as if I had just been told my boat has cancer. A couple deep breaths and some research, however, made me feel a little better. Andrew likened it to acne; one website I read called it chicken pox. Either way it doesn't have to be terminal. We could have chosen to ignore it, paint over the blisters, and keep going. It isn't a safety concern - it's not like the boat would sink. The problem would arise in the future when we (someday) decide to sell the boat.
Ignoring them, however, would also mean they would just get worse. Left long enough it could, eventually, become a major problem which would be terminal.
That left us with a decision - what to do. In large part it was a question of time and money. Originally we were told that to fully dry out the hull (some were oozing liquid) could take up to 6 months and the blister repairs could cost between $20,000 and $30,000. That's right - 20 THOUSAND dollars and six MONTHS of not living in our home.
This is why I hadn't updated the blog - I couldn't face it.
The good news is this is one of those situations where things may not be as bleak as they first appear. After spending several days trying to sort how we'd live (where) and how we'd pay for it (hard to get a loan when you don't own anything!), we got the less bad news. It looks as if at least some of the water seeping out may have gotten in during the power washing/stripping. That means the saturation isn't as extensive as first appeared. The plan now is to let it continue to dry out for the next couple weeks after which they'll dig out the worst of the blisters (until they get to good fiberglass). It is then a matter of rebuilding up the fiberglass, paint and we're done.
So we're now talking perhaps about 4 weeks and a cost in the thousands, not the ten-thousands. Still an unanticipated expense, but certainly MUCH better news.
Fortunately my mother's plans keep her in NC until mid to late September so we can remain 'berthed' at her place for now. If we're lucky that'll be about the time the boat is ready for occupancy. Now if we could just teach the cats not to sleep in the windows (officially they aren't here) we'll be all set!
This does, however, mean that our sailing days are over for the time being. It has been an exciting adventure and while it had its downs, we remember the ups much more vividly.
Thanks for reading about our adventures...
Carolyn, Andrew, Spinnaker & Jigger
05 August 2009 | Lexington, MA
I just went online and discovered that our last update was back in mid-July. Yikes! How time flies. It is hard to remember to write a blog entry about your cruising adventures when you aren't even in the water...
Upon reaching New England waters it had been our intention to visit old haunts in Mass Bay for a couple weeks, killing time until we hauled the boat out the first week in August. We THOUGHT the boat would be out of the water for about 4-5 days - a week tops.
Like so many other times during our adventures, things haven't quite gone the way we anticipated.
By the 13th of July we were in East Greenwich, Rhode Island visiting with our friend Joe from 'Onward' and making plans to travel to Cape Cod and P-Town with him. We called the boatyard to confirm our plans for the boat haul; they surprised us by asking if we could make it the following week instead (July 22). Having a schedule that is pretty much set in Jello, there was no reason we couldn't so we scrapped plans for a joint jaunt to P-Town and by Thursday we were headed back to our old stomping grounds (can you 'stomp' in a boat?).
We had one of the most pleasant trips through the Cape Cod Canal we've ever had (an easy sail most of the way up Buzzards Bay, a quick trip through the canal, and a slow, tranquil, lazy sail to P-Town on the other side). We spent a day in P-Town enjoying the scenery and re-provisioning, then with a good forecast for a trip to Salem we headed north.
We took the long route (so to speak) to Salem, arcing along Stellwagen Bank to get in some whale watching on our way. SUCCESS! We saw more whales on this trip than we have in previous trips along the bank. While we didn't see any breaching whales, we did witness some cool feeding behaviors: two whales skimming along the surface with their (very large) mouths open; a whale tail flapping to stir up plankton; etc. It was very cool.
We took pictures; unfortunately they are currently on the boat and we are not. Hence the title of this blog: Land Locked.
We spent a couple days anchored in Salem getting things lined up for the boat pull which included borrowing and picking up my Mother's car. (She was still in North Carolina and her brand new Mini Cooper was sitting around unused. How could we let a brand new ADORABLE Mini sit around being neglected?!) On Wednesday we brought the boat over to Winter Island and watched (with my heart in my throat) as our home (with cats along for the ride) was lifted out of the water by a crane and set on land. Once the boat was secured we packed up some clothes, cleaned out any food that would go bad, cornered the cats and crammed them into their carriers, and toted everything down the 15ft ladder to land. The cats' were then further treated to an hour long car ride in rush hour traffic to my mother's place in Lexington. Poor babies - shaken and rattled by a rumbling crane, buffeted in a cat carrier while being carried down a ladder, made ill by the rough roads of Boston, then dumped in a strange place with new smells - and which doesn't move!
Actually the cats probably are handling it better than we are. Jigger, in particular, has been enjoying running up and down the hallway and both cats have made a regular perch of the window sill. The only downside is that they can't go outside, but I think the views and space are making up for that.
But what about the boat?
What we hoped would be 4 - 5 days has turned into 14 days and counting.
When all is said and done I will write the full blown story of the boat work. For now I can summarize it as:
* Power-wash, inspect and repaint the bottom
has turned into
• Power-wash, inspect, UH-OH, strip to gelcoat (sandblast), reseal & apply new barrier coat, repaint
The unexpected stripping part (sandblasting) alone was estimated to take 2-3 days. That was a week ago and they still aren't finished....
I'm not even going to get into what they discovered as they started working on the engine!
Thank goodness for my mother's place. It'd be impossible to live on the boat for this long with no running water (no place for it to run to!) and climbing up and down a ladder. Not to mention how disconcerting it is to be living like Rapunzel in her tower 15 feet above ground. Sort of like living in a tree house I suppose!
Of course even the land-living got more "interesting" when my mother, John and her sister Juliet arrived from North Carolina last week. Five adults and two cats gets cozy in a 3 room apartment. (I exaggerate - add in the bathroom and kitchen and we actually have 5 rooms!). Andrew and I bailed out for a few days and visited my family's camp (cabin) in Maine for a few days entrusting the grandcats to Grandma's care.
But that's another story altogether....
Back in New England
11 July 2009 | Prudence Island, RI
You know, awhile back I wrote about things being a question of perspective and, even though in reality it was only May, how I felt as if we were heading back to winter.
That was SUPPOSED to be what is called 'irony.'
I WAS JOKING!
What's with the cold weather in July? The other day we heard a weather forecast predicting nighttime lows in the 50's and some places could see temps in the 40's.
What is this?!?!?!?
I guess there is no satisfying me because right about now I am really craving the sweaty heat of Panama and Colombia. That same heat that had me breaking out in a heat rash for 3 months.
I think my last post was about our irksome trip to Atlantic City. We left there and headed to Sandy Hook. It was a quiet trip. That is until about 30 minutes out when a squall hit with 30+ kt winds and rain. The squall made the Sandy Hook anchorage untenable so we tucked on in to Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey. We liked both the anchorage and the town - with easy access to grocery stores, a laundromat and, more importanatly, a bagel store.
We were going to head out the next day, but woke to find that Julie and Mark on 'Rachel' had pulled in. We opted to stay the day so we could visit with them.
Then we found out about the fireworks. Turns out their display was going to be the next day so. we stayed another day to watch them (a very nice show).
From Atlantic Highlands we headed to Port Washington where we visited with Andrew's brother's family (and the latest addition to the clan, Cameron, who was born while we were gone and is now five months old).
From there it was a couple stops along Long Island Sound and into Narragansett Bay where we are now 'gunkholing' around. We're trying out some locations and anchorages we've never visited. On our 'to-do' list is a visit to Newport to catch a Gulls game. The Newport Gulls are a collegiate summer league baseball team. I'm looking forward to watching a small town baseball game; I figure we saw the 'Tigres' in Cartagena, why not the Gulls in Newport?
We are trying to hook up with Joe from "Onward" (also am old friend from the Bahamas). From there, we'll see, but I expect that we'll head up the Cape Cod Canal later this week. That'll put us back in Massachusetts Bay.
29 June 2009 | Atlantic City, NJ
That really is the best way to describe our passage from Norfolk to Atlantic City.
The forecast wind was NW 5-10 kts so we knew we'd be powering. We accept that the weather forecast is more a suggestion of what MIGHT happen rather than a true fore-telling of what is to come. Nonetheless, I would have preferred if the wind could have been a tidge more consistent. We had everything from 20+ kts off the port bow, to twenty minutes later having 5 kts from 90 degrees on the starboard side. At one point I watched with amazement as the wind gauge did several complete 360's. Sometimes the wind was blowing a good 10-15kts, other times the only wind was the wind we made as we motored along. We were able to sail for a couple of hours the first afternoon and yesterday afternoon the wind picked up steadily again. Yesterday, however, we opted to keep the motor running, making over 7 kts so we could just get there.
The next irksome feature was the waves. Again, forecast models indicated 1' - 2' seas from the SE. Not bad - and if the wind was as light as forecast there wouldn't be much wave chop. HOWEVER, because the wind was so squirrelly, the waves also came at us from every direction. It wasn't too bad when we were sailing, but when the wind died down we flopped around. Imagine filling a bucket with water, sticking your hand in and swishing it around. Now put a cork in and watch what it does while you swish. That was us. The waves weren't big. They weren't scary. They weren't awful. They were just, well, irksome.
And then there were the flies.
You'd think offshore we could escape little flying bugs. Of course not! I still can't figure out how they get so far off shore (we've had the same issue sailing in Mass Bay between P-Town and Boston). And naturally they were biting flies.
I did get the answer to one question I've had in the past - do cats get bug bites?
At one point Spinnaker came flying out of her cat bed and began twitching. I was a little concerned at first having never seen this behavior before. She shot downstairs, which in and of itself is unusual - normally she hates to be below if the engine is running. We wondered if it had to do with the flies. We got our answer later as she cringed every time a fly came near. Poor thing. Not being endowed with opposable thumbs and a fly swatter there wasn't much she could do. Andrew and I, however, so armed phwacked at will. When we finally got in last night we had to sweep the floors and decks to get rid of the fly carcasses.
We ended up trying to build cocoons for Spinny. I covered my legs with a towel and she spent time sleeping under my knees; she nestled into some pillows on the settee and Andrew created a cave by laying another pillow on top.Jigger never seemed particularly bothered - perhaps with his "bulk" he never felt them.
So it was a trip of irksome wind, irksome waves, and irksome flies.
Once again, further testament to the glamour of cruising.
Ah. what a life!
What to do, What to do?
26 June 2009
We completed our Intracoastal travels a week ago when we arrived at Norfolk, VA - Mile 0 of the ICW. We spent a couple days anchored on the Portsmouth side, spending time discovering Portsmouth, visiting a Lightship Museum, talking a self-guided walking tour of the historic buildings...
While we hung out there we began debating what to do and where to go from there. Originally I had hoped to travel up the Potomac to Washington, DC. It is possible to anchor right off the city, in sight of the Mall. I thought it'd be a neat opportunity to visit the Nation's Capitol, take time exploring the Smithsonian, etc.
Then there was the day in Portsmouth when it was in the 90's, hazy, hot, humid and airless and I remembered, "Oh yeah - that's an average daily forecast for DC in the summertime." The idea of baking on an un-air-conditioned boat, stomping around in the hot sticky sun all day, no breeze to cool things off...
We decided to pass on that.
So then, what to do?
The only fixed date we have at this point is to be back in the Boston area at the end of August. Back in May when I flew to Boston it was to interview in Wellesley, the district I taught in before our trip. Much to my good fortune they had an elementary opening for next year and I was offered the job. Hip Hip Hurrah! Unfortunately as of yet Andrew has not had the same success - we just found out the company he interviewed with offered the position to someone else (bummer, Dude). Since for now I am the only one with a start date, why pay dock fees any sooner than necessary? As Andrew put it - "Carolyn starts the 27th of August so we have to be back in Boston by... August 26th?"
Having said that, we both are feeling like the boat really needs a little TLC. We definitely need to haul it out, inspect and repaint the bottom. We also want to do some maintenance on the engine. Andrew has done all the standard maintenance duties, but we're having trouble with the starter motor (again), he wants to check the valve seals, etc. The exterior varnish is horrendous (I varnished it all last June in Panama - but a year in the Caribbean sun, combined with the low-quality Caribbean varnish, the toe-rail varnish is currently falling off in sheets), We need to rebed some of the portlights... All in all Pendragon has earned a rest and some pampering.
We don't want to pay dock fees any sooner than necessary. We're looking to wait until September to return to Boston so we only have to pay the monthly dock rate for two months (the winter season starts November 1st). However we're looking into going up for Salem for the month of August. We'll get the boat pulled out there and then we'll either anchor or get a mooring (so we can use marina facilities) for the rest of the month to do our assorted jobs.
So then what to until August? Travel around the Chesapeake? Reconsider going to DC? Head back to New England?
From Portsmouth/Norfolk we did head up the Chesapeake to a couple of different harbors, but we both were feeling, "What's the point of heading north up the Chesapeake only to have to turn around again?"
In our little jaunt we decided to stop by Fishing Bay near Deltaville - a spot we did not visit during our trip down the Chesapeake two years ago. Our visit here exemplifies one of the things I like most about sailing/cruising - the boating community.
We were doing the snaking approach around shoals and I went below to check the chart. I heard Andrew shout out, "Hey - It's Rachel!" Julie and Mark on 'Rachel' were heading out of the harbor. We spent time traveling with them in the Bahamas; it was a kick to see them again. We chatted on the radio. They are currently heading up the Chesapeake and then from there on to New England so we're hoping to catch up with them down the road.
The sense of 'boating community' was further illustrated when we decided to take a stroll. We were walking out to the main road when a car pulled up to us. The driver asked if we were boaters and would we like a ride into town. Being a hot, sticky day we accepted - figuring we'd get our exercise on the walk home. The gentleman dropped us off at the hardware store where we picked up a couple of things. We heard there was a West Marine and grocery store down the road so we were walking that way when another driver pulled up and asked if we were on a boat and would we like a ride to the grocery store...
Everyone we met was friendly, offering assistance, etc. How often does that happen to you land dwellers??
When we got back to the boat we continued to waffle around, unsure what to do next. We had pretty much decided that the Chesapeake in summer is hot, sticky, buggy, and doesn't have lots of wind for sailing so let's just head north.
That thinking was reinforced when we discovered that our good buddy Joe from 'Onward' is leaving Baltimore and heading to New England. He will be traveling through the C & D canal then down Delaware Bay to Cape May. From there his plans include a stop at Atlantic City. We are planning to head out at Norfolk and had considered a stop at Atlantic City. While he does his trip down the Delaware, we can be doing the off-shore Delaware trip and we can meet up in Atlantic City. Perfect!! It'll be super to reconnect with a great sailing buddy (and to have some company again!)
So - that's the plan.