It’s Nice To Be Home
29 May 2014 | Hillsmere Marina, Annapolis, Maryland
It’s been a while since I sat down to write the blog!! I want to thank Bill for continuing it for me while we were at sea. You probably noticed that he was a bit more technical than I usually am. Maybe that was better while we were in the middle of the ocean. There isn't much else to write about. It wasn't that I was totally miserable the whole time (although I was for part of it). It is just hard to write creatively while you are at a twenty degree angle!!
Bill did save the story of what happened when we pulled up the anchor for me though. I figured I would relate that story and just give you my highlights from the trip. Sorry if I mention anything Bill already noted.
We checked out of the British Virgin Islands in the morning of Thursday, May 15th. The next step was to pull the dinghy up on the deck of the boat, deflate it, and tie it up for the ride home. We don’t keep the dinghy in the davits behind the boat when we are going to be on a long passage in the ocean. There is no need to have to worry about a wave crashing into it and filling it up with water. That is a long process and it’s a lot of work. While we were finishing up a beautiful wooden boat called Incandesa from Maine or Massachusetts came by and he wanted to anchor near where we were. We told him we were leaving soon and he could have our spot. It is mostly all moorings in Sopers Hole, expensive moorings, so when you find an anchoring spot you grab it! He anchored in front of us but soon was dragging behind us. We were finally ready to go but, for the first time ever in our anchoring experience, the anchor would not come up!! It’s happened to us twice this season with the dinghy, but this is the first time on Moonraker. As you can imagine, it was a bit more serious this time. One of the things you can try is to pull the anchor line from your dinghy in the opposite direction. Well we had just spent the last hour or so putting the dinghy out of commission. We asked to borrow the dinghy from Incandesa but Mark and his nephew Zack had their own problems at the time. Finally Zack decided to jump in the water to check our anchor for us. He saw right away it was stuck on a piece of concrete on the bottom, about twenty feet down. We have our Seabreathe diving apparatus for just emergencies like this so Bill was going to dive down and free it. Zack said he would gladly do it for us though if he could use the Seabreathe. We were happy to let him. It only took a few minutes once he was able to dive safely down there and we were free!!! We were able to get back to a mooring and regroup. And to make it even better Bill decided that we should give the rest of the Bahamian beer and most of the cheap rum we had bought for the officials in the Dominican Republic to Mark and Zack!
After a shaky start we finally got going in the early afternoon. Timing isn't too important when you know you are going to spend the next two weeks in the ocean. Bill is always worried about getting seasick, I don’t worry enough about it. He starts taking seasick medication before we leave. Unfortunately I don’t take it until I have already gotten sick. At least I’m not totally incapacitated when I am seasick, just miserable and unable to eat. We didn't get to eat dinner the first night but after that our method of pre-cooking dinners and sealing them in a vacuum pack bag and freezing worked great. Each night I would take a dinner out of the freezer for the next day. It took only twenty minutes pot to bowl for me to heat up the dinner in our pressure cooker. We ate all our meals from a bowl. It’s the only thing that makes sense on a moving boat in the ocean. I thought we would eat a lot more but really we weren't that hungry. I saved the best snacks for the trip home. We really did pretty well with provisioning. Finally there was no rationing. I’d been food rationing since the Bahamas!! I did a lot of eating to stay awake on my night time watches. That and the iPod is what kept me going. I am embarrassed to say we did a lot of sleeping on our night time watches too. It’s hard to stay motivated to watch for things when you've gone days and days without seeing a single thing.
We didn't take too many pictures during our trip but Bill did capture some of the more interesting moments. The picture above was taken when we decided to not go to Bermuda but continue to the Chesapeake Bay instead. We had just turned away from Bermuda. We saw the ocean in a lot of different states. Some major waves and some gentle swells. It wasn't incredibly boring but believe me, not a lot got done. I slept more than I think I ever sleep. I have an insomnia problem and we were worried I would not be able to sleep at all on this trip. The truth is that I slept almost every time I wasn't on watch, until the last day when, for some reason, I could not sleep at all.
We finally came into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay around 8:30pm on Memorial Day. I think I saw some fireworks over Virginia Beach! I will tell you that it was quite a shock to our system to go from seeing nothing and no one to having all the lights and buoys and the huge and constant ship traffic of the Norfolk area surrounding us! I managed to drive through it and we finally dropped the anchor at 1:00am in a crazy little patch of water between a marina and a major highway bridge into Hampton Roads. We slept for just a couple of hours and got up early enough to straighten the boat and call Customs to find out how to clear back in to the United States. We were lucky enough to have our efforts to straighten the boat be in vain. They cleared us in over the phone!! All we had to do now was get fuel at the marina next to us (no easy feat) and off we went, north on the Chesapeake Bay.
We had a great sail up the bay, surprisingly alone except for a few large ships not far away. Our intention was to go straight through back to our marina on the South River. What is another overnight on the boat at this point? It was going great until we heard the reports of thunderstorms ahead of us. We were hoping they would miss us but it didn't seem likely so we took the main and mizzen down. We should have just rolled the jib up then too but we waited a bit too long. It came in a bit too violently and we ripped the seams out of part of our dodger. Oh well, now we have a matching set, the seams are ripped out of our bimini too! More to fix…. Eventually the thunderstorms hit us when we were going past the mouth of the Potomac River and we watched the wind go steadily up. The maximum wind speed hit 57.9 knots. That is more wind then we have ever been in while underway. The halyard that was holding up our American flag broke free and the flag, that was already in tatters, was dragging behind us in the water. The bottom of our whisker pole came out of its holder and was smashing around the foredeck. It was loud outside!! It was also pretty terrifying. Luckily it only lasted for about a half hour or so. I guess the Bay decided to welcome us home!
We got back to our home marina about 8:30am. We were very excited to see Laura, one of our close friends, walking her dog down the dock. Our docking wasn't too bad but with Laura there it was even more successful! We didn't hit anything. That is always the sign of a successful docking in my mind! We still have to fix the damage from that unsuccessful docking that first morning in the Bahamas.
We have lots of work to do on the boat and lots of stories to tell our friends and family while we are here in Annapolis. We are moving back into our house which looks very good to us right now. My washer and dryer are sitting and waiting for me. We know we will be here at least four months this time, maybe longer. I will definitely update the blog periodically, but certainly not as often as I have been doing. I also have some photo galleries to catch up on.
We don’t know what our next adventure is but there is certainly one planned. For now we are thrilled to be home but really glad we managed to reach our goal of the British Virgin Islands and all we saw on the way there. People look at us in awe. One sales clerk at Best Buy congratulated us on being able to get through twelve days on the ocean together!!