11/06/2010, Annapolis, MD
Today was the eighth straight day of moving along. This morning we left Chesapeake City and headed out into the Chesapeake Bay. As soon as we passed the light that marks the end of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal we put out the trusty staysail. It was giving us a bit of a boost. We motored with the staysail only for a while. In the upper reaches of the bay you have to stay pretty close to the shipping channel, as it gets shallow quickly on either side. There were a lot of barges and tugs. In one area they were going every which way. They may have been dredging and bringing barges in to take the fill. It wasn't dredging with pipes and pumps like you see; there was one barge with a huge bucket and the other barges were coming up to it. Anyway, it was pretty confusing as we approached it.
After we got past that confusion and out where the bay opened up we raised the main (yes, lesson learned, the main was ready to set when we left the dock). We were hoping for some good wind but there wasn't much. Bud wanted to pull the genoa out, too, but I asked if we could wait until we had more room. We postponed the genoa, and as it turned out the wind started to drop. We ended up motoring with both the main and staysail for a while. Eventually we had to drop the staysail, but we left the main up. I'm not sure how much good it was doing, but it made us feel better. We have been out for three and a half weeks, we were moving 17 of those days, and we've had the engine off for 2 hours.
The current did more for us than the wind. We left just before high tide, so there was a slight current against us to start, but by time we were into the Chesapeake we had 2 knots of outgoing tide to help us along. We hoped to make Annapolis, but weren't sure we could. Thanks to the strong tide we got here at 4 PM. The tide was slack again by the time we arrived, but had done its job.
Our route took us out of the shipping lanes and across the bay on a diagonal. That's when we discovered the joy of crab pots as foretold by Jon and Arline. The buoys used to mark them are tiny. Sometimes they have a little piece of flag flying, and sometime just a bit of stick. To make matters worse, we were going southwest under a November sun, which never gets very high in the sky, so in the afternoon we stared into a sea of sparkles for hours at a time trying to pick out the little sticks and flags before we ran them down. We did manage to miss them all, even the one or two we didn't see until they were behind us.
True to form, as we turned into the Annapolis harbor and prepared to drop the main, the wind came up. A sailor's life! Once we get to warm weather we need to change our pace to match the wind.
We got a berth at the Annapolis Yacht Club. They put us just past the drawbridge on Spa Creek. Fortunately, we arrived in the creek at 3:56, as on the weekends the bridge is raised on the hour and half hour. Bud held the boat in the approach channel for only a few minutes while the Annapolis junior sailing contingent went zipping by in their little boats, and other power boats went in and out. Soon enough the bridge opened. Only one small section in the center of the bridge opens up. As you come up to it, it looks like you have about a 20-foot gap to get your mast through. We were still trying to get straight through the gap in the bridge when we spied the dockmaster indicating a slip just past the bridge. Bud had to stop and back a bit to make the 90-degree turn into the slip. Once we were here and tied I mentioned that it was a really difficult spot. "Not my favorite." was Bud's typically understated reply.
But here we are in the sailing capital of America, even if we have only sailed for 2 hours in our quest to get here!
11/05/2010, Chesapeake City, MD
We had a peaceful night's sleep at anchor last night. The boat didn't appear to have moved during the night. In the morning the anchor was still pulling back from the bow just like when we set it. Bud had to back the boat several times as I used the windlass to pull in the chain and anchor. That didn't make sense to us, but at least it held. My taunt-line hitch held the snubber, too. Thanks, Jon. I couldn't find my camera in the morning, and as usual we were hurrying to get going to beat the tide, so I didn't get a picture until we were out on Delaware Bay again. It looks pretty desolate.
We expected to fight the current again, but today it was with us. We made great time up to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. We kept the current through the canal, too. We had over two knots of current, so the miles flew by. Even though we were making good time, we stopped early, at noon. There is a free city dock in Chesapeake, MD, close to the Chesapeake end of the C & D Canal. You can stay for 24 hours and power is only $15. That's where we are. There are floating docks in a basin right off the canal, very nice. The only tricky part is making the turn across the current into the basin.
The first thing I did when we docked was to walk Fuzzy. He again refused to use his dog potty. He did pee on the carpet in the morning the day before. I think the wild ride through the surf scared the pee right out of him. But he won't use that pee pad. So it had been close to 24 hours since he'd gone. He was very happy to see a dock and solid land. Anchoring is not his thing.
We ate lunch, had time for a walk around this old town (photo in the gallery) and came back and spent some time organizing things aboard. We had a pizza delivered for supper and just generally relaxed. A nice change after yesterday.
11/04/2010, The Middle of Nowhere, Delaware Bay
Today was a long, full day and we learned a lot. We almost stayed at the dock in Cape May. It was supposed to be heavy rain and Bud was worried about visibility. Then we were awakened by the wind. Light winds were in the forecast, but when we got up at 5:30 AM (isn't retirement great?) there was over 20 knots of wind pinning us to the dock. There was no way Bud could squeeze back out of that marina in 20 knots of wind. I went and took a good long, hot, shower. When I came out of the shower rooms, the wind was down.
According to the forecast, today was the best day to go until Sunday. When the wind got down to around 10 knots we decided to leave, despite the rain. A man from Maine helped us out and we got out of there without hitting anything, but it was close. The big powerboat had left during the high winds. He did a good job of getting out of his dock, but he could take the Cape May canal, so didn't have to worry about the waves out on the ocean side.
And there were waves out on the ocean side. The inlet seems to be very bad for waves; the current was opposing the wind. Bud figures we went through 10-foot waves. Earendil rode them well, but they were not nice long rollers, they were close together and some were starting to break. One big one broke over our bow, lifting the dinghy lashed to the foredeck and giving a solid "whump" to the dodger. Fuzzy was still in the cabin, when I looked down through the hatch he was looking up at me with very big eyes. I went below to check on things and learned that the TV needs to be secured better, the cutting board can't ride in the slot next to the microwave and we need covers for the dorades and vents; when the bow goes under water, they leak. But there were no leaks around the mast, so that fix worked.
We wanted to cut to starboard right after the entrance buoy, but we went straight out for another 2 to 3 miles before the waves were small enough and spaced well enough for Bud to turn the boat. We went out far enough so we could actually angle back, because there was no way we could take those waves on the beam. We didn't have sails up because we thought we would soon be heading up the channel though the Delaware Bay. Bud suggested we put out the staysail, and after my initial moment of shock I saw the sense in that. We tried it. Immediately the action of the boat calmed down and we gained some speed. We were now angling against the current and any additional speed was needed. The lesson here is that the staysail is great to have!
The wind started to die and the waves settled down, but the outgoing tide was still killing our speed. It was raining off and on and we were getting damp and cold. We hadn't unzipped the main from the stack pack and that's not something you can do in any kind of seas at all. The lesson here is never assume you won't use your sails, have them ready. The staysail was doing great, but a reefed main might have made it that much better.
A major problem with this part of the trip is that once committed you have to keep going more than halfway up the bay to find a place to dock or anchor. We were struggling to make headway and the wind kept moving around to the nose. We put out and took in the staysail 3 times. Each time we furled it we seemed to get it tighter around the foil. That means it made more wraps and took more furling line. After yesterday, it wouldn't quite roll up all the way. A small corner stuck out. We should have fixed it last night but we were too tired and cold to stay out and do it. Today, after the second time we brought it in, we had 5 feet of sail still unfurled. That had to be fixed. We waited for a straight stretch of channel with no boats around. Then Bud engaged the autopilot. He went up and held the furling drum; I uncleated the furling line, pulled it back through the place where it ties on the drum (it take pliers to pull it out of the bottom of the drum to untie it). Then Bud rolled up the rest of the sail by turning the drum and I retied the furling line. It all went quite smoothly, but we were lucky the waves were down by then. There's another lesson here - can you guess? We put the staysail out one more time and kept it up until the end of the trip. We had no trouble furling it.
Despite our efforts to increase speed using the staysail, we still got to the stopping place just before dark (it was 6 PM). The nearest marinas were another 4 miles up the river and no one had answered the phone at either of them, so we decided this would be a good time to anchor. While Bud was selecting a spot and lining the boat up with the current (the tide had finally started to come in) I unclipped the anchor. When he had the boat stopped I released the brake on the windlass (mechanism that winds up the anchor) and nothing happened. After a few moments of struggle, Bud and I switched places. When Bud couldn't get it to release I went below to look up the information on the windlass. I couldn't find it.
Now it's seriously getting dark and the anchor still isn't set. Bud had me hold the boat with the engine while he tried to set the anchor by hand. That took two, so I left the controls and went to help. We couldn't tell how much chain we were putting out. I went back to check our speed (which we wanted at 0) and the depth. We were in 9 feet of water. So we pulled the anchor up and started again. At least the windlass worked like a charm to pull the anchor up.
By now we had to dig out our spotlight to find the shore to place the boat correctly again. Repeat all, only this time Bud was pulling the chain up from the anchor locker and Jill was feeding it out to the anchor. We stopped a couple of times and put the chain back around the windlass while we checked position and boat speed. It was odd. The boat wasn't moving, the current was against the bow, but the boat was moving over the anchor. We backed it off more than once. Anyway, after one such stop, Bud released the clutch on the windlass and the anchor started going out on its own. Evidently the windlass had finally freed up (we knew the past owner hadn't used it in the 8 years he owned the boat because the old chain was rusted into a blob in the anchor locker and some had to be cut out). So now we learned how to use the windlass. We even tied a snubber on the chain (we'll buy one when we can).
The generator is chugging away, the boat doesn't seem to be going anywhere, we're reasonably warm and reasonably safe, but it was NOT a nice day. I'll have to post a photo tomorrow. It will be interesting to see where we are (in more ways than one) in the morning.
The big lessons for the day are:
You never need to be somewhere badly enough to risk going at a bad time.
If you are stupid enough to do it anyway, the boat and you will probably live through it.
11/03/2010, Cape May, New Jersey
The next good stop on our way was Cape May and it is a long way from Barnegat Inlet. We started out as soon as we could see. Since it was a clear morning, we were on our way at 6:50 AM.
We motored in light wind for about 3 hours. The wind picked up and from a favorable direction so we set the sails. We got all three sails flying (main, genoa and staysail) and the wind immediately dropped off. Within a half hour we had the genoa and staysail furled again and were motor-sailing with just the main. That was a lot of work without any gain. You can see in the picture how hard Fuzzy was working. That's his typical sailing position.
We might have had better speed under sail, but the prop wouldn't set again. We had this problem earlier this summer and thought it was fixed. Our transmission is hydraulic, so there's no gear to hold the prop still. We have a Max-prop which is supposed to feather to reduce the drag. When it works, the prop stops spinning. When it doesn't work, the prop spins, the shaft spins and the transmission spins. It makes a terrible whine. Anyway, yesterday the prop set perfectly. Today, no go. We sailed anyway because it's not supposed to hurt the transmission, but it's terribly annoying. I'm sure we put the engine on sooner than we might have otherwise.
We sailed past Atlantic City and I added a couple of photos to the gallery. I started a new album now that we're on the ocean, just thought it would be easier to view the pictures if there weren't too many in any one album.
Altogether we went over 76 miles. That's a long day at about 7 mph. We got here to the marina just after 5, by the time we bought fuel and got in our slip it was going on 6.
The folks at this marina are very nice, but it's another one not set up for sailboats. Bud did a masterful job maneuvering. You have to make a 90-degree turn to the left to go from the main channel to their entrance channel. Then you have to make a 90-degree turn to the right to get in the opening in their bulkhead, and it's not all that wide an opening. We came straight in the marina main channel to the end; where Bud had to pull, bow first, into a slip for fuel. Once fueled, he had to back out, and come back out the channel a bit to our assigned slip. There wasn't room to just back out and turn, Bud had to go forward and back again to get turned. The slip was next to a 48-foot powerboat. The man and woman came out and were ready to fend as Bud began to make his turn into the slip, but no fending was necessary. I could see how worried the man was seeing a 44-foot sailboat with one engine and no thrusters try to pull in next to him from a narrow channel, but in the end, he just stood and watched and said, "Nice job."
It was about 7:30 by the time the sails were tidied. We still had to walk to a convenience store and cook and eat. We are both really tired. The bad part is we have another long day tomorrow! We need to make it around the point of Cape May and up into Delaware Bay tomorrow, as the wind and waves are going to pick up through the day and all day Friday. If the weather wasn't going to turn bad, I'd love to stay here an extra day. It wouldn't be an issue if we could take the Cape May Canal and skip going out around the point, but there are two bridges with only 55 feet of clearance. That 63-foot mast is causing problems again.
Sailing on a deadline (even as vague a deadline as coming winter) is not so much fun. I'm still dreaming of warm weather and lazy days!
11/02/2010, Barnegat Bay, NJ
Today we SAILED on the OCEAN. It was great. We were only able to sail for about two hours, but for that time we had about 12 to 14 knots of wind on a broad reach. We had full main and 135 genoa out and were doing over 9 knots (we must have had some help from the current again, but Earendil was doing most of it herself). It was quiet and smooth and so nice. We've been motoring for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I'd find sailing stressful or too much work; not at all. Sailing is restful. The only thing you lose is the constant source of power from the alternator.
Unfortunately, once we got out past Sandy Hook and turned south, the wind was astern. We sailed off our course for a while to try and keep both sails filled, but after about a half hour decided we'd never make Barnegat Inlet if we didn't use the engine. There wasn't another place to stop in a day's sail, and with all the traffic in the area we were not ready to sail through the night. We motor-sailed with the main for a quite a while, but eventually had to take that down, too, and become a trawler with a big stick again.
Barnegat Bay has great places to anchor, but it's still too cold for us. We don't like to leave the generator run for hours and we really don't want to go without heat. So we had to find another marina. I thought in a place like this it would be easy, not so. Most of the places are set up for powerboats. They're too shallow for us. There is one yacht club and we checked that out, even though they want $3.50/ft per night. They could take us, but because of our length we'd go on a long dock with only 50 Amp power. We take 30 Amp power, and because too much power has never been a problem on Lake Ontario, we have adapters to go from 30 down to 20 or 15, but not up to 50. The club had no adapters, so we chose to go to the commercial fishing marina instead. We were warned that this was a fishing marina, we wouldn't fit in the lagoon and we'd be out near the wall. They thought they would have a place we could go that would have power. We arrived right at 4 PM and pulled in to the gas dock. Unlike gas docks that cater to pleasure boaters and have fenders or some protection all along the dock, this gas dock had no fenders and pilings on the outside, so your own fenders won't do much good. We got in with no problem. They showed us the slip we could use; it was right on the inside of their front wall. Again, the docks are lined with pilings. The commercial fishing boats don't bother with anything like fenders. Bud decided to back in, and he did it pretty well. It took a while to get the lines and fenders set up for the tide and pilings but now we are safe and secure and have power again. Earendil fits right in with the fishing boats, don't you think?
We celebrated our first sail with a seafood dinner at a local restaurant. We enjoyed it, but Fuzzy wasn't too pleased to be left alone on the boat. He does like the smells around the fish dock, though.
11/01/2010, Great Kills Harbor, Staten Island
If it were warm enough to anchor we would be out of New York State tonight. But the low is still in the 30's, so we opted for a marina again. Looking at the chart, we decided it would be less overall distance if we went to Great Kills Harbor, on the south shore of Staten Island rather than down to Atlantic Highlands behind Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Besides, this marina (Nichols Great Kills Marina) was $.50/ft less. So as much as Bud wanted to get out of New York, he agreed to come here.
We had quite a ride down the end of the Hudson. At one point we were doing 9.9 knots with the current and ebbing tide. That's the fastest we've ever gone on this boat, and we didn't even have the sails up.
The ride down past Manhattan was beautiful. I took a few pictures of the city and have posted them in the gallery. There were a few barges around, but most were anchored. It looked like the up-bound barges were anchored until the tide changed. We passed one other traveling sailboat. It was probably less than 30 feet and was from Juneau, Alaska. I hope he sailed it from Alaska, I find that reassuring.
Once we got below Manhattan things got interesting. We installed an AIS, Automatic Information System, receiver. It's supposed to receive information automatically broadcast from commercial vessels. The first time we encountered a barge on the Hudson we were pretty happy to have the alarm go off and "Dangerous Target" come up in a huge box on our chart screen. Once we got to lower Manhattan the alarm was going off constantly. The AIS is supposed to be able to give us detailed information about each vessel. We weren't getting anything but the alarm and the box, so we'll have to figure that out later. There were ferries and barges, cruise ships docked, freighters, Coast Guard vessels, dredges and more. It was a challenge to sort them all out and stay out of everyone's way. The picture for today is of the Statue of Liberty with two ferries crossing in front. That sort of sums up sailing through New York.
Our paper chart ended at the George Washington Bridge. We have the chart on our chart plotter and we have electronic charts on the computer. I went down to the computer and planned a route to our marina. It worked pretty well after we figured out that the green buoys numbered "23" and "21" on the computer chart were "21" and "19" on the chart plotter. I determined a point to head for that would take us safely across some relatively shallow flats (16 feet for most of it) and put that in as a waypoint on the chart plotter. We steered to the waypoint and from there to a light and a buoyed channel that took us into the marina. I know this seems pretty simple, but to do it for the first time and to have all the systems work together correctly felt like an accomplishment to me.
So Earendil is back in salt water and tomorrow we go to sea!