Will be Home Tonight
26 July 2010
It is actually a little later than the position in this blog. We can see the Bay Bridge, which means we are only a few hours from home.
Last night was very calm and restful. The first restful night since leaving Bermuda on the 20th. In face, as Bob just reminded me, we have not set foot on solid ground since the evening of July 19, when we checked out in Bermuda. Maybe we wont be able to walk straight. (Hope you all get to see that.)
We started through the canal early. It was very pretty, lots of marshes and birds and woods. We could smell the woods, which was very nice. We saw a bald eagle and lots of other birds. Only a few boats, not too much traffic.
The canal gradually blends into the upper bay - it was hard for us to tell where the canal ended and the bay began. The current opposed us in the canal, but is very strongly with us here in the Bay. There is a very light variable wind, which sometimes helps us and sometimes does not. We are motoring, so that we can get home.
Our neighbor Ned circled us in his little plane, and waggled his wings at us, before taking off up north. That was really sweet. We were happy to see him.
Looks like a few more hours and we will be back home. WILDSTAR worked great, and almost everything that Bob has been working on over the past year and a half really paid off. Especially the new engine and electrics and the water maker. Our tanks are full of pure clean Bermuda rain water and water we made from the crystal clear ocean.
25 July 2010
It is 9 PM, and we appear to be safely anchored, just across the channel from the canal entrance.
Just wanted to let everyone know.
Moria and Loth Lorien
25 July 2010
The interesting thing about sailing is that people have selective memories. Their trips were great - all beautiful sailing with favorable winds or they were terrible - very uncomfortable and difficult with terrible weather and storms. Things change awfully quickly on a boat, and if yoiu don't write it down right when it happens, then that old selection creeps in.
so we were having this very lovely sail into Delaware Bay this morning thinking - this is what we wanted all the way across. Nice amount of wind, moderate temperature, small waves, interesting scenery. I thought we were home free.
As we got further and further up the bay, it turned into Lake Michigan in August. Way too hot, oily looking flat seas, slight roll. The difference here is that whereas in Lake Michigan you dont see anything on the horizon, here you see a smudge of land all across. The birds are different, and you have to stay in a narrow channel, dodging the occasional ship and fisherman, which keeps you awake. Otherwise, Lake Michigan in August all over again. Did i mention the biting flies?
Then, just when it seemed that we would never ever be cool again and that we might die of the heat, a huge cold front moved through. I think this is the system that kicked up tornadoes in Michigan, although I am not sure. Anyway, Bob and our good strong new engine kept us head into the wind in the channel, through 50 knots of wind and driving rain. We were still all rigged up for sea, so most things were solidly tied on. Our awning, which is a pretty stupidly designed awning, but has been very useful anyway, tore it's dinky 2 screws out of the deck and started banging around. Eventually I got it tied down and unzipped, and we put it down below. Very dramatic storm.
When it was finally over - if you look back into the storm, it looks like Mordor. I took a movie and will upload it after we get back to fast internet. In the other direction, clear sky with everything silhouetted (I cant spell that word) against the shiny clearness. Including a nuclear power plant and the strangest lighthouse I have ever seen.
Once again we are motoring along in beautiful weather. hoping to anchor near the entrance to the canal tonight and then go through and on to Annapolis tomorrow.
So we are having fun, and we are having hard times. A reasonable mix of both. What doesn't kill you makes you strong.
Entering Delaware Bay
25 July 2010
At about 6AM this morning we entered the channel to Delaware Bay. I say we entered the channel because on our navigation screen in front of the steering wheel, it shows channel lines and markers. It shows our boat and our boat's path, and we just follow the lines along, as if we were playing a very slow video driving game.
With our previous technology, this would have been a different picture. We could see nothing but ocean, all around. We know, by the charts, that we are heading in toward shore - that Ocean City is on our left and Cape May on the right, and that we are heading into a dead end. But we can see nothing but ocean. How can you navigate if you see nothing but ocean.
We entered the channel and have passed 2 markers, without seeing them at all. The whole channel width is maybe 5 miles across, so it is no surprise that we can't see markers, but i was very surprised that we could not see the entrance light.
Well thank goodness for electronic GPS and charts. This makes the whole thing very very very much easier. No more losing count of the islands as you go by them and suddenly wondering where in the world you are. That happened to us in an archipelago in the north part of Indonesia and I had to climb the ratlines to the spreaders up the mast to be able to see and count off all the islands to find our position again.
It is a beautiful sunny day. Supposed to be a cold front, but looks like it is holding off for a while. It will take us most of the day to get up to the Delaware Canal, that goes through to the Chesapeake Bay, north of Baltimore. We may stop somewhere on the way, or we may go all the way home to Annapolis. I expect we will stop, since Bob was up most of last night having fun sailing us 8.5 - 9 knots in the moonlight, with a big smile on his face.
It is very nice to be out of the waves - just a low roll occasionally. We can see Ocean City barely as a smudge on the horizon. Paul - I can see your place. Well, not really.
A Rough and Irritating Day
24 July 2010
Bob did a beautiful job last night, sailing us across the gulf stream, mostly at 7-8 knots, which is quite fast for us.
Then at dawn this morning the wind came up, and we found ourselves slogging to windward in 25-35 knot winds, with waves generally about 4 to 6, but another series that was about 10 - 14 feet high. We shortened sail because we really dont need everything up at 35 knots. in fact, that would be too much sail. so we had the staysail, the double reefed main and the mizzen. In spite of the fact that this was plenty of sail for that much wind, the waves, especially the big ones, just hit us right on the nose and stopped us, then slothered us around so the sails could not possibly still be full and then let us down. Wet and wild.
We put on the engine slowly, to help keep us going forward, so the sails would stay somewhat full. but we had slowed to about 1.5 knots, and had a good 150 to 160 miles to Norfolk. You figure out how long that would take - of pretty punishing stuff. Not dangerous, per se, but uncomfortable.
We called Commander Weather, who have not been right about most anything so far on this trip and they said that wind would continue and we would basically be beating ourselves on the head for hours and hours before getting into Norfolk and running into the cold front due Sun night or Monday.
So we altered course for Delaware Bay, which at least allowed us to make 6-7 knots in the right direction. We still slammed with the waves, but at least we were makiing progress.
So we are now heading towards Delaware Bay, and are about 75 miles out. The big waves have been gradually getting smaller and less difficult, and for the past several hours we have been having a dream sale, with the wind at 60 degrees and gentle rocking. Still rolling a bit too much to keep food on plates or pans on the stove, even with gimbles. But this kind of sailing is what makes sailors forget the bad weather and like sailing.
We hope to enter Delaware Bay sometime in the morning, and will decide then whether to stop and anchor to sleep, or whether to continue on up the bay to the canal. We have never been through the canal, so that should be fun.
Moving Again and Everything is Quieter!
23 July 2010
Now the weather is beautiful. We are heading over to cross the gulf stream, with wind just forward of the beam, waves much much moderated, and still steaming with the engine.
Amazing how much better one feels with a more gentle motion. Still not really gentle, but not quite so crazy.
For those who are worried about it, we ate salami and cheese sandwiches, some lettuce, a fairly decent cup of coffee, and some ICE CREAM. In the middle of the ocean. This is a big first for us.
IN answer to my sister nancy, Before, when we were sailing around, when we came ashore on an island our first question was "do you have electricity?" if they did, then our next question was "do you have ice cream?" and if they had electricity, then almost always had ice cream.
This trip is very different from our earlier trips in a lot of ways. This boat is very different from Mithrandir. Mithrandir is a classic wooden boat - even though it was new at the time. Even our running lights and cabin lights were kerosene. hardly any electricity.
WILDSTAR is a much bigger boat - 52' compared to 35' which makes a huge difference. but it is also fitted out with all the most modern lablor saving things. Most things can be done from the cockpit, with the use of electric winches. Even the anchor can be raised and lowered from the cockpit. It is just so so much easier to do everything. On Mithrandir, everything was by hand. We eventually installed roller furling on the foresails, but before that I had to go out on the bowsprit and man handle the sails. I was always hooked on with a safety harness, but I would sit with my legs locked around the pulpit and would sometimes go into the waves up to my waist. To take down the main, we had to both go up on the cabin top and man handle it down and furl it up by hand. Easy with no wind. Very hard with lots of wind and waves. To raise the anchor, we had a windlass, but it was operated by hand, with a long lever. Up we hauled it, 6 inches at a time.
I knew that we were younger and stronger when we sailed Mithrandir, but i had forgotten quite how strong we must have been. And now, after all those desk years, we are quite a bit weaker and less agile.
The other hugely obvious difference is communications. It must have killed mom and dad to have us so far away and out of touch for so long. We sometimes had to hike a few miles to the next biggest town to call them on the only phone for miles around. Today we can email and blog and pick up the satellite phone and call anyone we want to. We could order a pizza if we wanted to, but where would they deliver it.
With the comm difference goes the naviagational difference. we have an autopilot which is hooked up to gps. we know where we are every instant. we have 2 screens - on at the nav table and one outside - that show the chart and where we are on the chart and what the wind and waves are supposed to be doing (not always accurate we have already noticed) and there is even an ais system that all commercial ships are required to use, which broadcasts who they are, how big, where they are, their direction and speed, their hf phone number. so we see them 30 miles out and can follow where they are going and take action very early if necessary. we can even call them and ask them not to hit us, please. but we have that system too, so if they are looking, as they should be, then they can see that info about us, and be sure they don't hit us even if we don't call them. On the old system, it took less than 30 minutes for a huge oil tanker to come into our sight and then pass out of our sight. That means looking around thoroughly at least every 20 mnutes, all day and all night. Now we have an alarm. In fact, we have been sitting outside anyway because the boat is new to us and lots of the systems are new and quite frankly it was very uncomfortable down below.
More later. Picture is the first time we used the new stockholm chart placemats from noah and elina. (thanks again guys.) obviously - or maybe not so obviously - this picture was taken in port in Bermuda.
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