Dagny's Winter Cruise

20 May 2019
14 May 2019
10 May 2019
08 May 2019
05 May 2019
03 May 2019
30 April 2019
27 April 2019
21 April 2019
19 April 2019
16 April 2019
12 April 2019
10 April 2019
06 April 2019
04 April 2019
01 April 2019

Spring Cleaning

25 April 2023
Allan Gray
Our bad luck with winds on the Chesapeake returned after our great sail to Deltaville. When we awoke Thursday morning the bay was like a mill pond as we struck off for Solomons Island where we would spend our last night at anchor on this trip. Despite the lack of wind we enjoyed a relaxing 9 hour motor under sunny skies and arrived at our anchorage late in the afternoon. There are numerous areas to anchor at Solomons but we decided to return to Mill Creek and drop the hook in one of our favourite spots. It's a little further off the beaten track but the effort was worth it. We relaxed over a cocktail while watching a pair of ospreys building a new nest on a recently constructed platform. It was amusing to see the male return with a branch and show it to his partner for approval before adding it to the nest.

We wanted to be at Herrington Harbour by early afternoon on Friday in order to get checked in and hopefully confirm our haul out date. We awoke to a promising forecast of a 10-15 knot southerly breeze for our last day, but alas that wasn't the case. You guessed it, not a breath of air as we headed out for the run up to the marina, but once again we were graced with nice sunny skies. As mentioned in our last post we will be storing Dagny here for 2 months before continuing on to Nova Scotia. We have been on board since late September and we wanted to give Dagny a thourogh cleaning inside and outside before we headed home for a couple of months.

The marina we're in is huge and has a great reputation, there are 1000 boats here, they have 5 travel lifts and the contractors based here cover all required services. The only hick is they don't give specific haul out appointments, we are scheduled to come out the week of the 24th, which means anytime between Monday and Thursday. We find this a bit of a pain, however we are taking advantage of the delay to get all our work done before haulout. Cupboards have been emptied and cleaned, interior woodwork cleaned, bilge storage cleaned, engine serviced, exterior stainless polished, lots of laundry done and various other chores as we await our turn in the lift. Once Dagny is on the hard and the hull cleaned we'll be on our way home.

We had a great winter and as always made new friends along the way while rekindling old friendships. We were blessed with good weather in the Bahamas this winter and only had to ride out one bad westerly blow. Although Dagny had performed well in our previous trips we made numerous changes for the better. We added a new and bigger inverter, new Surrette AGM house batteries, a bigger anchor and increased the anchor chain from 125' to 175'. Our new radar works well but I need more practice with it before we hit fog in the maritimes, but it did pick up 4 high speed seadoos in pea soup fog in Florida. We didn't get to use our new staysail very much but I'm sure it will get lots of use in Atlantic Canada this summer.

As we prepare to head home shortly we are satisfied to know Dagny performed well and will be ready for her next test this summer. To all who have followed our blog, I hope you've enjoyed it and we'll be back on the air around July 1st.

Today's picture is of yours truly keeping watch on the last day.


The Big Push

19 April 2023
Allan Gray
Although we are not big fans of the ICW there are numerous beautiful spots where we enjoy stopping and Beaufort is one. Although the main anchorage is small and can get a little crowded it is right downtown affording easy access to this charming town. We relaxed over morning coffee watching the harbour come to life on one side of Dagny while wild horses wandered along the waterfront park to the east of us. Once the tide turned in our favour we were on the way to Oriental, a mere 20 miles up Adam's Creek. When we changed our transmission last fall I had stored the old one with the mechanic here. The plan was to do a touch and go then proceed a little further. However, when we arrived in town we discovered that there would be a boater's flea market the next day as well as a small local boat show. Since we weren't in a huge rush the decision was made to spend a couple of nights in this interesting town before pushing on.

This is the first time we will not be bringing Dagny all the way home to Lake Champlain. Instead we will store her in the Annapolis area for 2 months while we return home for awhile. Then on July 1st we'll set sail to Nova Scotia for the summer. We had 2 weeks to cover the last 350 miles, however due to mechanical issues on the ICW we wanted to get through to Norfolk as quickly as possible. The Great Bridge lock had been shut down for 5 days due to a major electrical issue and traffic was backing up. Fortunately we were ahead of the northbound migration so once we got word that they were operating by generator on a reduced schedule the push was on to get through while we could. The lock was only opening 4 times a day and while recreational traffic was light we had to deal with numerous barges that normally operate at night. Their limited manoeuvrability combined with the narrow channel made for some very close calls. In two and a half days we managed to cover what we usually do in 4 days and arrived in Norfolk tired but happy that we had completed another ICW trip without running aground.

This week we'll work our way north up the Chesapeake in anticipation for our haul out the week of April 24th. We haven't had much luck with wind on the Chesapeake however yesterday the wind gods finally granted us a beautiful 15-23 knot breeze to sail from Norfolk to Deltaville VA. Our friends on "Whitebird" who will be sailing to Nova Scotia with us, met us for lunch today so we could work on our summer plans. From here it will be 2 easy days to our destination where we'll spend a few days giving Dagny a major cleaning.

Today's picture is of The Siletto, a military craft we met on the ICW

Another Windy Week

14 April 2023
Allan Gray
Both Canadian and American governments have been working to streamline their customs clearance and cruising permit reports by introducing online apps for boaters to use. As is often the case with new technology there are growing pains so we were curious to see how things would work out this time. When I logged on to the website it still had not processed our report from Lake Worth back in December, so obviously I was prepared for the worse. How wrong I was, all our info including Larry's was already stored in the app allowing me to quickly file our report and before I could even put away all our documents an approval message flashed on the screen. Boy was I surprised, I had even put on a clean shirt and brushed my hair in anticipation of a possible video interview which they conduct from time to time. I quickly doused the quarantine flag and raised our US courtesy flag before settling in for a quiet evening and much needed sleep.

The cold front that we had been pushing hard to avoid hadn't arrived yet so we relaxed over breakfast before moving 10 miles up to the mooring field in Carolina Beach. We have ridden out bad weather on previous trips in this well protected anchorage and I decided we would hook onto one of the towns new heavy duty moorings balls for a couple of days. A check of the weather indicated the front would arrive around supper time so we took advantage of a beautiful afternoon to do groceries in a fully stocked store where "fresh produce" really is fresh. Once our chores were completed we headed off for a stroll on the beach and a cold beer to toast our successful crossing.

We could see the approaching clouds signalling the arrival of the inclement weather and in no time the wind went from 5 knots to 25 and the dropping temperatures brought the end to bare feet and shorts, for some. When Larry joined us in Marsh Harbour he planned to stay with us for 10 days or so until we got to Norfolk. However, while we were offshore a nasty ice storm hit a large area at home knocking out power to over a million people and melting snow was quickly flooding basements. It was obvious we would be sitting for at least 3 days so reluctantly we bid him goodbye on Saturday morning as he wisely headed home. The forecasters certainly got this one right. It blew 25 knots sustained, gusting to 40+ for two days with heavy heavy rain, before diminishing to 20 gusting 30 for another day and a half. Cabin fever was setting in by Monday when we braved a dinghy ride ashore to go for a walk; with the temperature hovering around 12 Celsius we wisely avoided the beach and just poked around town. The generator proved its worth throughout the weekend keeping batteries charged and running our electric heater. Finally after 4 days the sun came out and the wind dropped to 15 knots and plans were made to get moving again.

As a footnote to the harbour conditions the anchorage was relatively smooth, full of whitecaps but the waves were usually only a foot or so. However, we swung a lot on the mooring as the wind continually buffeted us. Bev always re zeros the trip meter when she fills in the log at the end of the day. However when we got to Wrightsville beach it showed we had covered 22 miles, of course I thought she had forgotten to re zero after the short run from Southport. Wrong, the chartplotter gets it's info from GPS which means over 4 days we as we swung back and forth we covered 10 miles.

After going over our options we elected to move 12 miles north to Wrightsville beach where we could stage for an offshore trip Wednesday to Beaufort NC. The 70 mile trip is easily done in daylight hours and allows us to skip yet another miserable section of the ICW. From Beaufort we would only have 200 miles of the ICW to transit before reaching the Chesapeake. As the seasonal temperatures slowly returned we took advantage Tuesday afternoon to tour Wrightsville beach, one of the many old time beachfront towns on this historic shore. Wednesday morning dawned bright, sunny and slightly warmer so we off the hook by 6:30 for a pleasant day trip to Beaufort.

Today's picture is of Dagny's crew enjoying a well deserved beer to celebrate our arrival in the US.

Lost At Sea

09 April 2023
Allan Gray
They say the third time is the charm and since this was our third trip to the Bahamas we were looking forward to an enjoyable trip north. During our earlier trips there hadn't been any wind for the 100 mile leg across the Bahamas Bank; however, this time we enjoyed a good sail under a nearly full moon until the early hours of Tuesday morning when we had to fire the engine to keep our speed up. Although we had a good weather window that would remain open until late Thursday evening it was important to try and maintain a minimum of 6 knots over the ground at all times.

Our plan was to reach the Cape Fear River mid afternoon on Thursday which would give us ample time to get in a safe anchorage before the nasty weather arrived. Once leaving the Bahama Bank at Mantinilla Shoal we headed northwest to within 60 miles of Cape Canaveral to pick up the strongest part of the gulf stream for the ride north. I had studied various routes for the trip and luckily by combining info from a few sources, mainly Chris Parker, we hit the nail square on the head. When we arrived in the heart of the stream late Tuesday we turned due north and rode a 4 knot push until early Thursday morning. The winds remained light forcing us to motor sail until early Wednesday when we could finally shut down the engine again. All in all we had a great trip, the relative calm seas and warm temperatures allowed us to sail in shorts and tee shirts around the clock as the full moon lit the night sky.

Once we were able to get a good ETA for Cape Fear we calculated that we needed to slow down during the last 10 hours in order to avoid the 3.5 knot ebb tide. Unfortunately, this created the least comfortable conditions of the trip, especially while exiting the Gulf Stream, Dagny rolled from side to side under reefed main only. However, our timing was good and we had a nice smooth entrance in the river and arrived in Southport after 551 miles in 71 hours.

This was by far our best trip weather wise but also preparation wise. Bev had prepared and frozen 5 dinners as well as snacks and sandwiches reducing galley time for everyone while at the same time keeping us well fed. Having an extra crew on board was a bonus during the long nights as we all had a chance to get adequate rest and sleep and as usual Dagny and Otto performed perfectly.

During the day on Wednesday we had a visit from a small yellow breasted bird the size of a chickadee, the poor guy had been pushed off shore and was exhausted. After a couple hours of rest we got him to drink some water and once he perked up he set off exploring the boat. We tried in vain to keep him out of the cabin but whenever a hatch or window was open he'd pop through in a flash. Of course we named "Admiral Bird" and figured he would stay with us until we got close to land. As the day went on he became more brazen and would take off for little test flights around the boat to check things out. By now we sailing down wind in close to twenty knots; sadly during one test flight he got too far behind the boat and couldn't catch us. Bev lost sight of him as he was struggling to get back to us so we had to assume he was lost at sea.

Today's picture is of "Admiral Bird" checking out the wheel.

Bye Bye Bahamas

04 April 2023
Allan Gray
We'll after almost 4 months in the Bahamas it's time to start the trek north once again. We had a fantastic time and met some great new friends as well as rekindled old friendships. We spent the last 2 days in a marina in Marsh Harbour cleaning and preparing Dagny for
the next leg of our journey. My to do list included washing the hull with vinegar to get off the caked on salt, changing engine and transmission oil, filling diesel and water tanks as well as giving the equipment a good check over. In the meantime Bev cooked and froze 5 dinners, did laundry and cleaned the cabin top to bottom. This was the first marina we had been to since Vero Beach and boy did the long hot showers ever feel good at the end of our busy days.

We had been watching the weather closely for a week or so and it looks like we have a great weather window to sail to Southport NC in one shot, a distance of around 550 miles. We slid Dagny out of her berth at noon on a Monday but had to wait for my brother Larry to arrive from Hudson. It's always great to have an extra hand for these longer trips and his experience will be a great help to us. I had warned him that we would probably leave right away and we weren't kidding. He was barely on board before the anchor was up and we were off in order to transit the infamous Whale Passage in daylight. The weather forecast looks good for the next few days, the only hick is we have to be in port by Thursday night to avoid a nasty cold front coming down the coast on Friday. We’ll be out of cell coverage until sometime Thursday but we’ll post something once we get in. So far we’re off to a great start, it’s 2 a.m. we’re sailing in 15 knots of warm breeze under an almost full moon. Larry and Bev, my editor, are asleep and I’m still in shorts and bare feet. Meanwhile Otto is doing his thing as Dagny glides along.

Today’s picture is of one of our last sunsets.

“Abacos Strong”

31 March 2023
Allan Gray
After spending a few days anchored off Hope Town we decided to move 12 miles north west to Archer Cay. We had spent a couple of days here on early trips and wanted to re-visit the area one more time. We were anxious to get the kayak back in the water and spent two glorious days paddling through the Mangroves in search of turtles and rays. Although the anchorage is only 8 miles from Marsh Harbour, traffic was very light and there were never more than 5 boats here at a time. The small secluded beaches were ideal for treasure hunting and late afternoon games of Bocce Ball. Our time in the Bahamas is winding down and we still had a few places to visit before our season ended and it was time to move again.

Our next stop was Treasure Cay another 8 miles further north, so under clear sky and light breezes we set sail for the relaxing trip. We had visited here on our previous trips and were keen to see how they had rebounded from Hurricane Dorian. The 3 mile crescent beach at Treasure Cay was on the list of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. During earlier trips we had marvelled at the beauty of the white sand and emerald coloured water that give this area it's name. The well protected harbour was home to a large marina and beautiful homes lined the numerous canals in what had been a very popular resort. We were saddened to see the utter destruction of the area, the canals have finally been cleared of all debris but the marina is gone. I mean gone, there were docks for over 100 boats, gone, there was a great harbour restaurant bar, gone, the clubhouse, laundry, showers etc., gone. We went for a walk on the famous beach only to discover the ever popular beachfront restaurant completely gone, the only thing remaining were two concrete footings. The once stunning beach is still nice however, there are areas of exposed rock where the sand has been dragged out to sea and a 200 yard long pond has been created right in the middle of the beach. There is a very popular golf course that the condo dwellers frequent; however, the condos are gone and the golf course has survived but sadly there aren't any players.

After 2 days we headed to Marsh Harbour to prepare for our return trip to the US east coast. Marsh Harbour is the supply Center for the Abacos but we had held off coming here until now. It had also been hit hard by the hurricane but once again we weren't prepared for the utter destruction that is still on display 4 years later. The harbour has been cleared of sunken boats and submerged cars but there are still several boats washed up on shore. Sadly as the city struggles to build new structures the old ones are left standing as stark reminders of the force of Mother Nature. "Abacos Strong " is the catch phrase that has been adopted in the area and our hats are off to the resilience of the people. Despite the hardships they've endured everyone has been friendly and helpful to us as they struggle to rebuild their lives. It's been an eye opener for us and we figure the best way for boaters to contribute to the rebuild is to frequent as many businesses as possible.

For a lighter note, today's picture is of a dog heading to the beach.
Vessel Name: Dagny
Vessel Make/Model: Sabre 402
Hailing Port: South Lancaster On
Crew: Allan Gray and Bev Bethune
About: Allan is a retired Montreal Air Traffic Controller and Bev is a retired Elementary School Principal.
Extra: After many years of local cruising and Etchells racing we are living our dream of sailing to the Bahamas. Allan enjoys golfing, cycling and skiing. Bev is an active cyclist, runner, aerobics participant and cross country skier.

Who: Allan Gray and Bev Bethune
Port: South Lancaster On