Merlin to the Bahamas

25 October 2014 | Deltaville Boatyard
16 October 2014 | Deltaville
15 October 2014 | Deltaville
14 October 2014 | Solomons Island
13 October 2014 | Rhode River
16 April 2012 | Home
15 April 2012 | Tangier Island
15 April 2012 | Cape Charles City Harbor
12 April 2012 | Portsmouth, VA
12 April 2012 | Great Dismal Swamp
12 April 2012 | Elizabeth City
10 April 2012 | Alligator River
10 April 2012 | Gale Creek
10 April 2012 | Swansboro
06 April 2012 | Topsail Island
05 April 2012 | Bald Head Island
03 April 2012 | Georgetown SC
31 March 2012 | heading towards Charleston
31 March 2012 | heading towards Charleston
31 March 2012 | heading towards Charleston


25 October 2014 | Deltaville Boatyard
So, it seems that we'll have to postpone our trip for another year. The yard can't get the work done until at least mid-November (they actually told us the end of November, first, so I'm not sure if mid-November is even a possibility). Even if they could make mid-November, we'd have to really rush to get south, and then would have to interrupt our journey for Thanksgiving. And the purpose of the trip was as much the journey as the destinations, so we don’t want to rush it.

Such a shame, too, since we sighted a boat that we knew leaving Jackson Creek, stumbled on another boat from the Bahamas that is currently in Charleston…Well, maybe next year. Our biggest challenge right now is figuring out how to get the boat back to Maryland after Deltaville Boatyard finishes their work—and hope that it can stand not being winterized until then.

Seems this will be our last blog for this attempt south.

Sometimes You Have to Linger

16 October 2014 | Deltaville
Sheryl; A storm, then gloom
Sometimes you have to linger
A friend recently emailed us that "if you find a good spot, maybe you should linger...". Guess Deltaville is a good spot, because Merlin has decided to linger. Deltaville Boatyard has an excellent reputation, and Wes discovered that the bow damage was more severe than hoped--the bow was cracked through in one spot allowing water penetration and increased hull weakness. Closer inspection also revealed a (probably existing) hairline crack in the stainless s steel stem fitting that supports the forestay. Deltaville Boatyard can't start work for about a week, but we have reluctantly left Merlin in their hands.

We met our Reedsville friends (well, Bob drove down and picked us up, including all our cold foods, and took us back to their house). We managed to have a marvelous evening and dinner out with them. And we met their happily impish puppy, Loki, and reacquainted ourselves with Belle. With some difficulty, we kept our food and clothing away from Loki!

Bob very graciously volunteered to drive us to our Pasadena house (poor Bob, not sure if he remembered how far away we are!), and then had to drive himself home so that he & Kaylene could get to their boating seminar at Deltaville tomorrow. We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends!

Of note, there was a Horned Grebe near the boatyard...and we saw lots of terns while crossing the Potomac bridge (by car). On an even better note, we heard from Jay--safely arrived in China, stymied because gmail and yahoo accounts aren't accessible there, but not stymied by his hostel hostess butchering a sheep while he waited to check in.

So, now we're back in Pasadena--phones, mail, newspaper all cut off. We can still be reached by cellphone and internet, though. And, we're very hopeful that we'll restart our trip soon, hopefully before the end of the month. Needless to say, any schedule we might have had has been delayed, and there will be no more blogs until we reunite with Merlin.

Click here to see Merlin's most recent position and track.

Gorgeous Weather, Not so Gorgeous Sailing

15 October 2014 | Deltaville
Sheryl; Building winds and waves
Gorgeous weather, not so gorgeous sailing
We were able to enjoy a nice fresh breeze while sleeping last night--it was warm enough to open the hatch, especially since I didn't feel like removing the duvet from the duvet cover. The silvery moon and lots of stars shone in the foc'sle hatch last night, but they didn't keep us awake. Nor did they help us wake up when my alarm went off at 6 a.m. this morning. But I heard the engine of a boat going by, and knew we needed to get going. We did, and were motoring out of the anchorage by 6:40 a.m.--when Jay is supposedly landing in China. (We hope that happened, but haven't heard yet).

The moonlight made it easy going and Wes was able to get a picture of the sunrise. We are underway, and the sun is shining brightly, shimmering on all the surrounding water. The wind is also blowing, probably about 15 knots. What's not to like? How about, the wind is on our nose, we are riding a bucking bronco, and the hatches are leaking.

Also, I decided that since we would have wind and sun and a nice long day at sea, it was a good day to do a bit of laundry. Needless to say, I can't hang anything on the lifelines, and everyplace in the cockpit is susceptible to wave splashes. Our speed isn't too good, since we keep getting slammed by the waves. But, at least we are just going up & down, and aren't yawing back & forth.

Be nice if I had thought to get ice last night, because the frig is having problems overcoming the engine heat--the temperature is getting higher than I'd prefer.

The good news is that we're currently around the mouth of the Potomac, so if we can get by that without too much trouble, the motoring should get better. The bad news is that the weather forecast is for stronger winds, still out of the south, and thunderstorms tomorrow. We may decide to stay put a day. That would be nice, because maybe we could meet up with our Reedville friends (but in Deltaville), since we missed them yesterday.

Two pelicans have been flying around our boat, checking us out. They pretend to be fishing, but I know better, since they haven't dived in the water, or gotten wet. They are clearly spies, trying to decide if this Merlin is after their fish.

Well, the motoring did NOT get better. The waves got bigger, there were fewer birds to watch (lots of pelicans and gulls around the mouth of the Potomac, maybe a tern or two--hard to tell on a bouncing deck! And some black scoters...), and the cockpit and foc'sle got wetter. It took FOREVER to get to Jackson Creek, near Deltaville. It was so nice when we arrived in the creek--there were no more waves, and the wind had diminished some, although we could see and hear both waves breaking and wind howling outside the creek entrance. We arrived sometime after 6 tonight--but I had dinner ready shortly after 7. I couldn't start anything ahead of time, either--we were just pitching around too much.

Planning to stay put tomorrow...get some walking in (we missed that today), get some ice, possibly get some repairs...and maybe meet up with friends.


14 October 2014 | Solomons Island
Sheryl; Nice, then clouds and rain
When I finished writing Saturday's blog on Sunday, the sun was shining and there was a nice northerly breeze. I had even called some friends in Reedville, to see if we could meet them for dinner on Monday. And, since we had such a nice breeze, Wes put the main up (the jib was already out), and killed the engine. Or, actually, he tried to kill the engine. He even opened up the engine compartment to use the manual shutoff. But, the engine kept going. We discussed the optional way to kill the engine, by shutting off the air intake, but he was worried that might permanently kill the engine, and so we skipped that step. Then, the wind dropped a bit, and we decided we'd better go ahead and use the engine rpms to keep us on track for our arrival in Solomons. But, the engine didn't feel like cooperating with this idea, either. It just felt like puttering along. So, we puttered.

Along the way, we had an unfortunate collision with a foreign object, and Merlin sustained quite a bit of damage--several cracks and scuffss in the gelcoat (we hope just the gelcoat), the bow pulpit is all bent up, the lifelines are all saggy, and there may be a few other issues.

We eventually arrived in Solomons, passing a stray Brown Pelican on the way (I'm not sure if it was supposed to still be here), and docked at Spring Cove Marina. Were able to meet my brother and family for dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant, and we enjoyed seeing all of them.

Monday, the mechanic from the marina made it out to Merlin around 10:30, and by around 2 pm, we were able to leave the marina. Engine repaired, some temporary cosmetic and protective repairs for the gelcoat, and Wes managed to get the anchor out of the rollers to anchor in the harbor (too late in the day to get anywhere).

Since Wes had to stay with the boat while the mechanic worked (and I walked, AND saw the 2 Horned Grebes we had seen while walking to dinner the night before), he offered to take the dinghy and walk to the Food Lion for a few things. He got a much longer walk than he bargained for, but he needed it. We opted off the boat again for dinner, since I hated to miss CD's Café--no problems getting a table tonight.

We both enjoyed our dinners, and an evening stroll around, to bed to get up early, and hopefully get some mileage under our belts before the wind builds up too strong tomorrow.

Off to the Keys!

13 October 2014 | Rhode River
Sheryl; Rainy and Gusty
And, we're off...?
Funny, I went to start this blog, and I happened on the one when we left for the Bahamas. All about last minute issues--business as usual, I guess. This year's issues were, of course different. First, we removed the parts needed to repair the traveler and mainsheet. That didn't work--couldn't find a new part, couldn't find anyone to repair it. And, when we got back from Peru, ready to start getting the boat prepped--we couldn't find the part! It had been rattling around in the back of Wes' car for a month--now it was nowhere to be seen. Finally, Friday morning, Wes found it in the bike baskets, with our helmets and other biking paraphernalia. So he went to work trying to straighten it, redo ball bearings (such cursing!), etc. The plan was still to leave Saturday. Thursday evening, I came home from the grocery store, thought I would save us some loading and reloading, and took the cold goods down to the boat fridge. Wes was on the boat, and after I left, he decided the frig had stopped working. Brought everything back up to the house, and started looking on line for a new fridge.

He was really on top of things Friday morning--in addition to finding the part, he decided the fridge WAS working, probably. So, somehow, despite the pouring rain Saturday morning, we cast off about 2 pm. The rain was mostly a drizzle by then, but it was cloudy and cool. The wind we had, though, was from the right direction--north!

We motorsailed down to the Rhode River while I was down below, bouncing up and down, and trying to figure out where we were going to stow all the STUFF. Discovered several bathing suits, among other duplications, already on the boat. (and I had tried so hard to pare things down.)

As we were approaching the Rhode River, Wes saw Starlight Express (the Jackins' boat) pop up on AIS, and then disappear. Moments later, it reappeared. So, when we got into the anchorage area, it was no surprise to see them rafted with 2 other boats from one of their other cruising clubs. They invited us over for drinks. Our only other plan was trying to stow things on the boat, so we chose drinks. But, we didn't want to mount the dinghy engine, which would then have to be stowed before the next morning, for the short trip. Decided to try out our new oar locks. Rowing is sooo much easier when the oars stay in the locks! Had a nice time, met Maryann & Al, Betty & Don, and enjoyed everyone's hospitality--and the warmth from all the candles.

Halfway back to Merlin, I realized my mahimahi buff was missing--I had left it on the boat. So, Wes turned around, rowed us back (he's getting pretty good at this!), and we turned the boat upside down, but no buff. Decided I must have had it attached to me, and it fell off sometime between leaving their boat and getting in the dinghy.

Back to Merlin to try to get the frozen chunk of homemade chicken noodle soup into a pan (success!), and cook up our dinner.
The next morning dawned sunny, windy and cool. Great day to be headed south. After taking forever to clean the mud off the anchor, we were going to swing by Starlight Express, see if we could find my buff in the daylight, and drop off a chart for them. With all that wind, trying to approach with Merlin looked like an accident waiting to happen. I grabbed a life jacket and got in the dinghy (pretty excited, I could see my bright green & yellow buff dangling from the Jackins' swim ladder), and Wes was supposed to hand me the chartbook. Guess he forgot while he was driving Merlin and casting off the dinghy line. I was now adrift, trying to figure out how to get the oars loose so I could row. Wes was shouting directions, and they finally worked. Managed to get to Starlight Express, tie myself on, get my buff--but I was still missing the chartbook Wes wanted to leave with them. He drove by in Merlin, and wanted to toss the 20"X 15" book at me, pages flapping in the wind--until he figured out that would just lose us the chartbook. So, back around for another pass--and, despite me shoving Merlin off so it didn't hit Starlight Express, we connected. Rowed back to Merlin, and by 8:45, we were on our way to Solomons, hoping to meet the Masiellos for dinner tonight.

Tangier, and others

16 April 2012 | Home
Sheryl, sunny, clear, 80s
Tangier, Solomons, and Home

We went ashore Sunday morning for a walk, since we thought we were headed to the Little Choptank, and that anchorage is not conducive to going ashore. We managed about our 4 miles, and hit a beach, too! The beach was being refilled by a dredger, so it was pretty messy, but that didn’t stop us from walking out to the point, just to see what’s there. Good thing we did, too, or I don’t think we could have got our 4 miles in without going in circles.

We passed a number of gravestones, some in cemeteries, some not. All the trash cans are decorated with lighthouses on top of them—takes up about ½ the size of the structure. Throughout the island, there are plaques explaining historical events, or locations. We were pretty amazed at the one that mentions a sheriff/deputy shooting someone because he was breaking the law requiring him to be at church on Sunday, or at home (this was NOT recent)!

Despite the weather forecast for 15-20 knot winds, the winds were very light. They were from the south or southwest, but not enough to sustain the gennaker, or even the jib. And, the lack of strong winds encouraged flies to appear out of nowhere (we’re out in the middle of the Bay!)—so many, that I broke our fly swatter swatting them! (and, we have dead flies all over the boat now)

Because we weren’t traveling as fast as we’d hoped, we couldn’t make Little Choptank at a reasonable hour, so we ducked into Mill Creek at Solomon’s Island, and had dinner in the cockpit, since the weather was so nice. We were up and away before 7 a.m. the next morning. It was still cool, but much warmer than it’s been.

We spotted a gannet while we were motorsailing up the Bay, so they are this far north now. No more pelicans, or dolphins! By the time we hit the Magothy River, the winds forecast for Saturday, Sunday and Monday had finally materialized, and we were able to keep our speed, but turn the engine off. Wonderful!

So, our return to the Magothy after 6 months and 4 days was with glorious weather—sunny, clear, and, while it was over 80 degrees on land, we were experiencing delightful springlike weather, with the breeze cooled by the water. We were docked at our home by 3 p.m., and now, we have to get our boat and house back together—including take care of that groundhog who is STILL HERE! (We hope it hasn’t multiplied yet)

THE END (of this trip)

Our lat/long to look us up on Google Earth at Mill Creek, Solomons Island is: 38°20.129'N 076°26.243'W.

The picture is of an anhinga, feeding its babies in its nest (Green Cay or Wakodahatchee, Florida).

Vessel Name: Merlin
Vessel Make/Model: Wauquiez Hood 38 MkII
Hailing Port: Annapolis, Maryland
Crew: Sheryl & Wes
Sheryl & Wes have been sailing together for over 30 years while juggling work and family responsibilities. Now we're off on extended cruising adventures. [...]
Extra: Other activities enjoyed include hiking, biking, skiing, snorkeling, and reading.
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Merlin's Photos -

Far From the Sea

Who: Sheryl & Wes
Port: Annapolis, Maryland