Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finishing Chesapeake Bay and hanging out in Hampton with "Gale"

On our last evening in Deltaville (Oct 27) we joined in on a BBQ at the marina. Lots of food and met some very nice people. As we were sitting talking there was a couple from Mississauga who store their boat there for the summer. As it happens, the world once again shrank to awfully small proportions. The lady Connie, I (Dave) had met while I was working at Mono Cliffs. She was on a contract with another part of the board and we had briefly worked on something together. And her husband Ken, works at the West Marine store in Oakville, and I had met him there, having spent many hours equipment shopping this summer. Go figure!!

So we headed out from Deltaville for our last stretch of the Chesapeake Bay. It looked not bad and started that way. As we made our way further from shore to get into a deeper channel the wind came up and before we knew it we were rocking like crazy in large, steep waves. It was hard to hold the course we wanted to avoid the shoals because the waves were hitting us broadside. Christopher would look below in the cabin now and then and comment enthusiastically as items started to fly around and make a bit of a mess. We didn’t realize that he had also been paying attention to the marine forecast until he said, “These waves aren’t 1 foot, the forecast was wrong!” After donning our harnesses and much jockying with the wind and waves to get to our preferred course we were relieved to turn downwind and have these waves pushing us in the direction we wanted to go.

At the end of a tiring day we pulled into a nice anchorage (nice for now) in Mill Creek in Hampton Virginia. We hopped in the dinghy and went to the military marina there and went for a walking tour of Fort Monroe. Pretty cool with a moat, big cannons and all! No alligators in it though. That night at 3am our nice anchorage turned into a rocking ride. The wind shifted and waves came rolling in, causing Christopher to wake up and say "this isn't comfortable" and then... "this isn't safe". After jumping up and down too many times I decided to sleep in the cockpit. That turned out pretty good as I could lie there and open one eye now and then (pirate style) and see that we were still OK. As Matthew mentioned in one of his comments on our blog - I wonder if when we get home I'll be hopping out of bed to make sure the house is still there!

After that we found a better anchorage in the Hampton river. The anchorage was better but the weather got worse. Wind and rain and then gale warnings! These really made for a raucus time. With the weather getting the best of things we upped anchor in the morning and went down to a marina for 2 nights. Ahhh. With temps getting down to 3c we were able to plug in our little heater. This was also the time to complete a special mission. Christopher was in need of a blood test for his arthritis medication monitoring and so we took this time to rent a car and drive to the local hospital for the procedure. As usual he was very brave about it all and afterward, free wheeling with this car - guess where we went?? To the Amtrak station!! A fitting reward for getting through the hospital stuff. That evening we sang Happy Birthday to my sister Patti!

We actually had the car until 3pm the next day so we took off to see trains the next morning as well and also got to do a number of errands. It was funny to be driving for the first time. It didn't blow sideways in those strong winds!

Now it is Oct 30 and we are back at the anchorage on a sunny cold day. I am sitting in a cafe writing this while Shirley and Christopher have walked off to the post office. A solo sailor who had just come down the east coast stopped at our boat to offer a book he had just finished. This is what this trip is like. You never know what interesting thing is going to happen next! There are a number of boats here waiting to head off on the Carribean 1500. An offshore event with 50-60 boats hitting the ocean and going straight to the carribean, with support. Cool! I also bumped into a fellow boater from Sodus Bay NY in sailing vessel Kismit. The world shrinks again!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hopping from creek to creek down Chesapeake Bay

Saturday, October 25, 2008
Happy birthday to our nephew Matthew!
We’re still in Chesapeake Bay. Since we wrote last we’ve stopped a couple of times because of small craft advisories and the internet has not been available, so we’ve not been able to update the blog. Actually, the internet is always an interesting challenge. We often can get it momentarily as we swing on the anchor, if we put the computer up on the top of the dodger (the wind/rain screen at the front of the cockpit), only to find it gone in the next 5 seconds as we swing the other way. When we do get online even for a minute, we always check first for comments or emails, so thanks for the words and thoughts you send our way.
The weather has also changed to more the “winter is coming’ variety. The other day when we woke up, we checked the thermometer in the cabin. For interest’s sake, we then put the thermometer in the fridge. The fridge was warmer! But, alas, too tiny for any of us to move in to.
We left Solomons Island on Monday the 20th and headed south. The winds really picked up as we crossed the mouth of the Potomac River, where we also crossed from Maryland into Virginia. We anchored up the Great Wicomoco River behind Sandy Point. It was a nice pretty anchorage, but with a small craft advisory forecast for the next evening, this would not be the right place to be for the direction of the forecast winds. Tuesday, we headed south a little further and headed up Indian Creek to anchor for a couple of days until things calmed down. On Wednesday, we dingied over to the marina and headed into the town of Kilmarnock a mile and a half away. We were lucky to be offered rides both ways. Did some grocery and boat hardware errands, played at a playground and ran into some familiar Canadian faces also walking into town (Kathy and Darius from Breeze Hunter, Debbie from Sweet Surrender, and the son and daughter in law of Klaus who we had met on the Erie Canal). Back at the marina we were invited onto the boat called Spirit, owned by Ans and Gerjan who had been sailing for 3 years since they left their home in the Netherlands. Fun to hear stories of their adventure.
Thursday, the forecast was good for travelling so we headed a little further south to Deltaville. The wind was steady and the waves were lively! We decided to anchor in Jackson Creek, and after following the markers in a very unusual channel found that the rest of the southbound travellers seemed to have also decided to anchor there as well. We were all anchored just close enough to make us keep checking our position all night. Friday afternoon to Saturday evening was forecast to be another advisory with a thunderstorm as well. We decided maybe it was time for a marina. We chose one that deals with Catalina boats, so we could get some advice/opinions on a few things. By land it was only a mile away from where we were anchored, but to get there we had to round a shallow point so it was a two hour trip. Being at a marina feels pretty decadent now. Hot showers and power! Christopher learned early on that those white posts on the docks mean electricity and his face lit up when he realized that we’d be plugging in. The owner, Onna, drove us into Deltaville, where Christopher was glad we found a model train store. The owner ran all the displays for us. At the grocery store we ran into Don and Maj-Lis from the Blue Blazer. We hadn’t seen them since we all started down the Hudson River. We got a lift back to the marina from a grocery store employee.
Today we walked to a maritime museum and nature trail. Tonight we’ve been invited to join in an end of season BBQ at the marina. Tomorrow, the forecast is looking good for continuing on. We hope to get near Norfolk, perhaps in the Hampton area a little northwest of the city.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sharks, bones and teeth

Wow - that was a windy night. Our anchorage isn't very protected and these winds were gusting over 60 km/hr. We took turns getting up to make sure we were still where we were supposed to be, which of course leads to a bit of a tired day ahead. By late morning we were off in the dinghy to explore different part of Solomons Island - the Calvert Marine Museum. For a small place the museum is really very good. One of the first rooms had a full scale skeleton of a huge extinct Megatooth shark which was quite scary for Christopher the adventurer. After strategically avoiding the shark he finally ventured in under the protection of the camera. Later with the help of one of the staff he found a shark tooth in the fossil sand pit, which was labeled and kept as a prize catch.

After the visit and a few groceries it was a sunny dinghy ride "home". Our anchor neighbours Kathy and Darius invited us over for drinks and snacks. Always good to hang out and exchange stories of anchors, wiring and other facinating topics - if you live on a boat!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Swinging On the Anchor

This would be a good place to relax for a couple of days we thought. Anchored in a nice peacefull spot along the Chesapeake Bay. After a great stretch of warm and relatively calm weather a new front came through - likely from Canada judging by the temperature. A high of only 58F (we are gradually losing our metric literacy). And the wind started to blow. Our anchorage is protected from waves but not the wind so much. We were doing fine, and then someone else came and anchored really close to us - too close for our comfort and I got up a few times at night to see where he was. By first light though he had left to sail further south. As the morning went on we made plans for the day, while the wind got stronger. Next thing we knew another boat nearby started to drag its anchor. A hazardous situation if not stopped because the boat could crash into whatever is behind it. I started waving and calling over and the 4 men inside came out, started their engine, hauled up the anchor and took off.
That left us feeling nervous about leaving our boat to do the things in town we had planned. So we spent the rest of the morning doing boat chores and boat schooling. Good thing scrubbing the deck is something Christopher enjoys! Spelling test today as well - 9/10.
With the strong winds it built our confidence that our anchor was holding fast. We decided to head out after all, which meant about a 15 minute dinghy ride to the Holiday Inn Hosptitality Dinghy dock -for a $2 parking fee. Looking back every couple of minutes we bounced through the waves, laundry in hand, wondering if we should be leaving our Tiffany Rose alone. We planned for me to drop Shirley and Christopher off and then zip back to watch the boat. But instead we all went ashore - the haircutting place could take us right away! So three haircuts (see picture) and a batch of laundry later we hopped back into Sea Jay 2 (our dinghy name) and motored our way back. As we rounded the last bend we were craning our necks to see if Tiffany Rose was where we left her - phew! there she was dancing back and forth like a horse ready to enter the ring. As we arrived it was nice to see Breeze Hunter, a boat we had met earlier on our journey.

At this moment we are being serenaded by live rock and roll from the Tiki Bar. Tonight is its last night before closing for the season and the place is hopping. The end of a relaxing stressful and satisfying day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

South along the Chesapeake Oct 15 - 16

On Wednesday we left the great hospitality of Mike and Ginett and went back to the boat. Mike drove us there and decided to take the day off work and joined us for a sail around the Annapolis area. The winds were light but it was beautiful and peaceful out on the water. We also did some engine adjustments that I hope cure an intermittent stalling issue. It was interesting to watch around us as large schools of tiny fish would stir up the water around the boat and then a whole bunch would start leaping into the air. Pretty cool.

In the evening we rowed over to Annapolis and had a Pizza supper.

Up early this morning for a longer day of about 48 miles. We filled up with diesel, water in the tanks and pumped out the holding tank - a fresh start to the day! Ahhh!

The trip was quite gentle. We wanted to head out today because tomorrow is a small craft weather warning and we have heard that this body of water can get pretty nasty because of how shallow it is. We arrived at our anchorage at Solomons Island, Maryland around 4pm. We were too tired and hungry to go out exploring but we did launch the dinghy and buzz around the local area after dark. Christopher really likes our little dinghy excursions and we hope to explore the area tomorrow. It is great to sit here in the cockpit writting this. We have not had internet access at many anchorages, so this is a bit of a treat. Christopher even got to do a bit of You Tube surfing!

A big Happy Birthday to our niece Sarah, living in Australia now!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On to Annapolis! And Washington! Oct 12-14

With another stunning morning we headed further down the Chesapeake. Our first stop there was an anchorage just outside of Baltimore. There we met our friend Mike Steiner, his wife Ginett and his dad Harry. We picked them up and went for a late afternoon sail around the area. More sun than wind so it was a peaceful afternoon. The next morning we went a bit further to Annapolis where we were amazed at the huge flotilla of sailboats going to a fro. When we got there we were lucky to pick up a mooring ball. The world famous boat show was in its last day and a couple of moorings had come open. With a few hours left in the show we decided to go and see what it was all about. Wow – it really is a big boat show. A modest estimate would suggest there is at least a gazillion dollars worth of boats there, and tons of other boat stuff. It was worth going in to soak up the boat world atmosphere.

Later that night Mike and Ginett picked us up in their car and we all went out for a fantastic seafood dinner. Afterwards we went back to their house to spend a few days on land – very odd after a whole month living on the boat! Nothing moved in the house all night!

In the morning Mike dropped us off at the subway train and we headed off to tour Washington DC. We hadn’t really planned to do this but it was a wonderful side trip on our adventure. Another “boat schooling” field trip. We took in as much as we could going to places like the White House, Washington Monument, Capitol Hill and the Smithsonian venues. The Museum of Natural history was a real hit and we spent most of the afternoon there being immersed in some great exhibits. Afterward it was back to Mike and Jinett’s for a BBQ feast! What a day on land and what fabulous hosts!! By the way - who won the election?...its not making the news here.
(If you look back to Oct 9 posting we were able to upload a video clip of some of our time out on the ocean.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cohansey River, C&D Canal, Chesapeake City and our first stop on Chesapeake Bay

October 10th and 11th

This blog will be a little out of date by the time we post it, because we’ve been anchoring and the wireless possibilities have been few.
Left the Cohansey River, calculating that we could make it up the rest of Delaware Bay before the current turned against us and then turn into the C& D Canal and still have a couple of hours of that current still in our favour. A beautiful day and the currents and winds cooperated. Dropped the sail for the canal and were lucky with ship traffic. Only a few and there was plenty of room each time they passed us. We arrived in Chesapeake City, almost at the end of the canal, hoping for the free dock we had read about. It was full so we headed into the basin to anchor. The chart listed plenty of water, however we grounded right at the entry. Docked right there was Highborne Lady, the boat with the couple who have done this trip 58 times. Well, in an instant, Bill, who is 84years old, was hopping off his boat and into his dingy and he motored over and pushed us off. No towboat necessary this time! We anchored in the basin and noticed Jock there, (the catamaran sailor who knows Willie Brown). He dingied over to our boat and then the four of us spent the afternoon visiting the museum there that is the old pump house and steam engine for the old canal, then walked over to the main dock for ice cream, and were joined by Bill and Barbara, our rescuers form Highborne Lady.
We headed out the next morning for Chesapeake Bay. Once in the Bay you knew you were in sailing territory finally….sailboats wherever you looked. We anchored in Worton Creek, and took our dingy, Sea Jay 2, in to the marina there. We were greeted by a very friendly dog named Rainy, who was really keen play fetch with his favourite stick no matter where you threw it. A person at the marina showed us Rainy’s willingness to take a running dive from the dock to fetch the stick and that sold Christopher. The next 45 minutes they were inseparable. We’re hoping the blog will let us load up a short video of that. Dingied back to Tiffany Rose, and a beautiful calm evening and night at anchor.

From Cape May up the Delaware Bay

October 9, 2008
Lots of discussion at the marina in the morning about the conditions on the bay. Some had departed earleir but returned after it was too rough. Some said they tried the day before with similar winds and had to return. But after looking at the winds and the strong tidal currents we decided it should be good to head out close to noon. So off we went wondering if we had made the right decision or if we would get out there and get tossed around like a bag of salad only to return to a “I told you so”. When we got out onto this huge bay we were met with good, but not unmanageable waves and were greeted by a number of dolphins. We were soon on a course that allowed the waves to push us a bit along with the wind and the tidal current. Not a bad combination. By mid afternoon we had peeled off layers of clothes and were basking in the sun, a wind on our forward beam a boat zipping along at close to 7 knots. Delaware Bay is very big and for a while we were totally out of sight of all land. Felt like the middle of the ocean!
By 4:30 we were pulling out of the bay into the Cohansey river. This river is a beautiful anchorage – especially on a beautiful evening. BBQ pork chops and potatoes for supper while we watched the effects of the current on our anchored boat. Then there was the perfect sunset…

Pics 01, 06, 12

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Arrival at Cape May - OCT 8

Whew! We have completed our first offshore section and have landed in Cape May NJ. It was really cool to sail past Wildwood - the place we had our summer vacation 2 years ago. At that time we never dreamed we'd be sailing by it off shore! The day started pretty calm and then it really built up to being fairly rough by noon. Good thing we started early and got here by about 1:30. This time the wind was on our nose and so we had a lot of salt water splashing over the bow. It felt great to pull into the harbour. And the place we arrived at had welcome packages with wine and snacks along with beautiful showers. Ahhhh!

We headed off to the grocery store to stock up for the next week and to do a needed laundry. Met some interesting folks - one older couple (84 yrs) who have done this journey more than 50 times! An inspiration and a great resource!

Atlantic City Day

Today was a day to relax a bit in Atlantic City. Our dock was associated with the Aquarium, so our fee included admission. It was a great place to visit while on this trip. It was a boat schooling field trip for Christopher. It had a lot of hands-on exhibits to get a bit wet with. It was also a day to do a bit of maintenance like changing the oil in the engine - a little more awkward on a boat than on the car.

We also strolled alnog a beach getting our feet wet and then a larger set of waves came and soaked Christopher from chest to toes!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Open Ocean- Yikes!

We left Sandy Hook, nervously quiet and serious and headed out to the open sea to head down the coast of NJ. Getting out of there on a Sunday morning was like being on the 401 with no lanes. Every fishing boat of all sizes, plus a pile of other commercial boats were zooming somewhere. Not enough eyes it seemed, to keep track, even with 3 of us on the boat. The waves were very confusing as the some were from the wind and others were piling up from all directions from the boats. It was a relief to get further from shore.
Getting farther out though, meant our first venture out on the ocean – just the three of us, this little boat and what looks like a zillion miles of water, with the wind churning it up into waves that easily toss us about. But for the next two days we would be fortunate to have the wind more or less behind us with the waves providing a bit of surfing, if we could hold the right angles.
It took a while to settle in and get the gittery tension out of our systems. Then it was really cool to be cruising along and gazing out across the expanse. Christopher of course enjoyed this too and speculated on the direction of the Island of Sodor across the Atlantic.

Our first port was Manasquan Inlet. It was a shock, but shouldn’t have been to swing down into this inlet and again be confounded by a myriad of fishing boats in the most narrow channel we’ve ever been in, complete with extra narrow lift bridges. We pulled in to a dock which was conveniently located next to one of the bridges. As luck would have it, it was a train bridge and we were once again treated to a number of fine passenger train displays courtesy of NJ Transit. Here we met another Ontario boater who knows one of Christopher’s teachers from Mono Amaranth – Willie Brown. If any of the MAPS folks are reading this can you tell Willie that Jock Tulloch is venturing down the coast, mostly on his own, in a catamaran he built himself. One of these pictures is Christopher with Jock. (If we ever refer to a picture that is not there it means we have to wait for a better internet connection then we will.) You never know who you are going to meet once you set out!!

Monday Oct 6

Up early and heading out at 7 am to do the longer ocean stretch from Manasquan to Atlantic City. Once again we had good speed the whole day with the wind pushing us along. The waves were bigger and a bit different so it took a while to get used to it. But then Christopher was able to get some boat schooling in and we did a lot of singing along the way. By 3pm we were pulling into the harbour of Atlantic City and the grand Trump buildings and Casino. The afternoon weather was great and after landing we took a walk down to the boardwalk. As we were walking along we stopped and looked at each other, amazed that we arrived here by sailboat. It seems a bit surreal now that 2 years ago we didn’t know anything about sailing and here we were.

Statue of Liberty and on to Sandy Hook

Did some boat errands like filling the water tanks, pumping out and getting fuel, then headed further down the Hudson to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. Soon Ellis Island and the statue came into view. It was very impressive to see it here in 2008. We can’t imagine how awe inspiring it would have been back in the 1880’s. We went as slowly as we could and took lots of pictures. Next summer on our way home we hope to have a longer stay in New York City to spend some time actually visiting landmarks like this. Right now we are feeling pushed along because the next stretch down the coast from Sandy Hook to Cape May New Jersey is best to do in good weather and now seems to be the right conditions to do that stretch. Next summer when we get back here we will have that stretch behind us and will be more relaxed for our city visit.
Continued on through the harbour with cruise ships leaving, and freight ships and barges anchored everywhere it seemed. Finally, once we were through the Narrows and into the Lower Bay area we were able to turn the motor off and go by sail alone. Ahhhh! As soon as the motor was turned off, all of the hustle of the city disappeared too.
When we got to Sandy Hook, we first thought we’d anchor near the Coast Guard station, but seeing masts further south at Horseshoe Cove we decided to head there instead. Now, two guidebooks had warned us that depth is sometimes a problem and that finding the way in required ‘local knowledge’ there but the other boats there gave us a sense that it must be ok. So we inched along following the chart and eyes riveted on the depth sounder. “20 feet, 25 feet, 20 feet, YIKES 0 FEET!………….Hello, Towboat US?” After the towboat (the CAA of the sea) left we wisely retreated back to our original plan and spent the night anchored in plenty of water near the Coast Guard station. So Peter Bailey we have our first grounding!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hello New York! October 3

What a day! We battled really strong winds and an up flowing current most of the day so it took from 7 am to 4pm to get to the big city. Finally we passed under the George Washington Bridge and the scenery really changed. When we arrived we decided to splurge on a marina berth. Mostly a good idea but it meant docking in really strong winds, a rapid current and waves coming from all kinds of large boats. There are a few moments of fear and rapid heart beats and then - zap - its done and we are here! At the bottom of 79th street in Manhatten. And wouldn't you know it, an hour later Pete Seeger's boat "Clearwater" docks beside us! It is used for environmental education and was full of school kids getting some fine experiential learning. How cool is that? You can check it out at

Then off we went to attack the street. Four blocks from the boat is Broadway - teaming with people, stores, firetrucks. More than we've seen for a couple of weeks, that's for sure. Christopher is looking to see where Bert and Ernie might live since their street is in New York! We think we may have found it. Our venture out was mainly for groceries and not any big shows. Not sure how much sight seeing we'll do since we will be watching the weather for an opportunity to head off the coast a bit to point the boat south.

Sailing Down My Dirty Stream

The Hudson River - our home for the next couple of days. Many years ago we learned a Pete Seeger song which laments the treatment this and other rivers has received

Sailing down my dirty stream

Still I love it and I'll keep the dream

That some day though maybe not this year

My Hudson River will once again run clear.

from Sailng down my Dirty Stream -P Seeger
Listen toPete singing this from an old LP - click on

The stretch of river from the Catskills to New York City is really beautiful - in spite of the quality of the water. You would never know you were heading into one of the world's largest cities when you arrive by water like this.

This part of the journey also was time for us to try out our anchoring abilities. We anchored for the night (first time in this boat) by a little island in the river. It didn't provide much protection from the wind and current but it did keep the pesky freighters and barges from running us over. Being our first time doing this in a spot where the water goes up and down with the tide and the current reverses every six hours or so with a strong wind pushing in the opposite direction half of the time, we lumbered out of bed a number of times to see if we were still there. All was good. We'll catch up on this sleep later 'cause tomorrow we want to head out at sunrise to travel a long day to the Big Apple! The greatest part of this anchorage was that we were about 20 metres from shore and on the shore was a very active train track!

The Big Stick - Sept 30

Getting the mast back up went fairly smoothly. Sure glad they knew what they were doing there 'cause we didn't! In order for us to capture this and learn for the future Christopher took some pictures of the event. Actually more than a few. He found out that the card is full after 386! Here's one of those.

After it is up it still looks kind of limp, which is never good, so it takes a bit of work to tune the rig and get everything else back in order. We spent the rest of the afternoon and much of Oct 1 turning our canal cruiser back into a sailboat. Of course being the first time we've done any of this there was much staring and pondering and chin rubbing, often followed by a stroll over to someone elses boat with yet another question.

But then it was time to play. The town of Catskill has a wonderfull waterfront park and playground just down the road from the marina. We played there for a while and then splurged on a dinner out at the mini restaurant - burger place in the park. Christopher enjoyed seeing a few other kids there. Back at the boat the dinghy was inflated and we are ready to head off!