2009-2010 Caribbean / Bahamas Trip


October 2009 Log

Saturday October 10th - Provincetown, MA

After a frantic month and a half of preparation we left Newburyport, MA. this morning at 6:45 in a cool mist.  Looking back over the past several weeks it's amazing that we managed to get away at all.  At the beginning of August we were making arrangements to spend the Winter aboard at Constitution Marina in Charlestown, MA.  Roger's Mom, Nora, was doing poorly and we needed to be close by.  Sadly, on August 31st Nora passed away and we made the decision to flee the Winter in New England where we were no longer needed.

Winter clothes were taken off the boat while cruising gear was pulled from storage and brought aboard.  Merri-Mar Yacht Basin, our marina, launched into overdrive on projects we had put on hold and didn't have the time to do ourselves.   A wind vane, new refrigeration and a wind generator re-fit among them.  Roger's project list was monumental and included the winding up of his Mother's affairs.  I had planned to work through the Winter and was instead giving two weeks notice.  We had just a few weeks to prepare to leave the States for the better part of a year, aboard a small sailboat.

As we sit in the cockpit tonight watching the sun set over the West End of P-town we are finding it hard to believe that we are actually underway.  Thanks to all our family and friends who made this departure possible.  We will miss our regular cruising communications with Nora, describing the harbors where we are anchored and receiving stern admonitions about "being careful."  We will also miss Milo, our feline traveling companion of previous voyages.  He has joined "Team St. Albans" where he will be consulting from the non-rocking confines of my Mother's house.

We'll try to update the logs in a somewhat timely manner but you know how that goes. 

We'll be in touch.

Saturday October 17th - Block Island, RI

The early portion of this trip is showing some similarities to our first.  It's cold and we aren't making a lot of headway.  At least this time we have heat.

Monday the 8th we made our way across Cape  Cod Bay and through the Canal to Marion.  Marianna, our temporary companion boat, has cruising friends there who had offered moorings and a tour of the area.  Tuesday was forecast to be a bit blowy for moving so we were up for a land tour instead.  Lily & Harvey on Pryde were gracious hosts.   They introduced us to one of their favorite restaurants, Elisabeth's, in Fairhaven and pointed out some scenic high spots between Marion and New Bedford.  Among them was the massive hurricane barrier in New Bedford Harbor which we are hoping we won't need to use this trip.  This day also provided us with an opportunity to fraternize with a cat, which we sorely miss.  The Pryde cat, Zsukie, is a Berman.   She is quite spectacular to see and amazing to touch, but too young to have gained your air of measured thoughtfulness Milo.  I swear.  All in all a fine day.

Wednesday had us back on the water heading for Block Island.  During the longest leg of the day Roger deployed the wind vane for the first time.  The wind vane is a mechanical device which is mounted on the back end of the boat and is used to steer the boat in place of the helmsman.  The wind was a bit fluky making it a bit difficult to set the vane but with some practice it's going to be a very wonderful tool. 

Pat & Fred on Marianna set their sights on Mystic as their Wednesday destination.  The weather outlook isn't great for a near term departure for an offshore run from Block Island to Cape May/Delaware Bay and they want to work on some projects that require parts.  The inside route down Long Island Sound and the East River will give them the opportunity to buy supplies.  We, on the other hand, have the parts we need, we just require the time  to do the projects.  Waiting for weather at Block Island for ? days will give us more than enough of that.  With luck we'll see them once we both reach the Chesapeake.

Today finds us holed up in Block Island's Salt Pond for day 3 of our wait for weather.  We have started the watermaker successfully.  Roger has installed the AIS and repaired the macerator pump connection.  I have completed several sewing projects and made a fan repair.  Can we go sailing now, please.   It's looking like there's a possible window MAYBE Tuesday...

Thursday October 29th - Burley Creek, MD

Yes, I am slightly behind.  It has been twelve days and 300 miles since my last update.  We are currently living in the lap of luxury, tied to a private dock and walking (and driving) on shore at our slightest whim.  Our secluded spot is overlooked by a lovely home with cruiser-friendly amenities such as a stand-up shower, laundry, one-touch flush toilet and too many others to name.  Where are they you ask?  "Camp Burley".  Our hosts are (or were until this morning) Larry & Bev of the good ship Chandelle.  I say "were" because they departed this morning in their Swan 44 for parts south.  In their place as "Camp" managers for the Winter are David & Donnna of the sailing vessel Merlin.  The new "managers" are friends of ours from Newburyport who, due to circumstances beyond their control, are not headed to parts south like they had hoped.  Below is a relatively brief overview of the last few weeks of our journey.

When I last sent an update we were bogged down in Block Island in very snarky weather.  We spent from Wednesday October 14th through Tuesday October 20th yelling to one another over the howling wind.  Several nights were so bad that sleep was more of an idea than a reality.  We tackled a huge number of projects, many of which we actually finished.  We read and cooked and listened to the appalling forecasts day after day.  By Monday afternoon there was light at the end of the tunnel.  A weather window was forming for a Wednesday departure for Delaware Bay.  The dinghy was hoisted up onto the deck, beef stew and muffins were made for the passage.  Spirits rose markedly.

Wednesday morning (as in 1 a.m. morning) Roger began the laborious process of extracting the anchor from the bottom of Great Salt Pond after it had been extremely well set by a week of gale force winds.  We finally freed ourselves and were out the mouth of the harbor by 1:30.  At last!!!  The plan was to arrive at the mouth of Delaware Bay 30+/- hours later as the tide began it's flood, thereby allowing us to head all the way up the Bay, through the C & D Canal to the Bohemia River at the head of the Chesapeake in one shot.  It was not to be, but it was close.

As we left Block Island we were greeted by reasonable seas.  The one day we had given them to settle down seemed sufficient.  The AIS that Roger had installed during our wait was immediately put to work and we were tickled to be able to identify the bulk of the traffic that was plying the waters during the moonless night.   The wind was favorable and the temperature was surprisingly pleasant.  The change in the weather was amazing.  Shortly after the sun rose, as we ran along the south coast of Long Island we were greeted by a pod of 12-16 dolphins.   This was the furthest north we had encountered dolphins and it was a great way to start the passage.  By mid-morning the wind had all but disappeared.  On went the engine and the motorsailing began.  We had our standard bird visit at mid-afternoon.  Unlike past visits where we'd get a solo, there was a pair of ??? that dropped by.  They were very little finch-like birds in a shade of burgundy.  They were very talkative.  I proffered a peanut and a raisin from our GORP rations but they were uninterested.  Perhaps we should carry freeze-dried flies for occasions such as this.  

The first strike against our perfect tide entry at the Bay was the half hour we had lost getting the anchor up in Block Island.  We couldn't complain about that since we didn't move an inch during our six days of 30+ knots winds on the hook.  The next issue conspiring against us was diesel fuel.  The marinas in Block Island were all closed for the season so we couldn't fill up before departing.  We had used the diesel heater a fair bit during our time in captivity and we were doing the math re: consumption and, well things were a bit dicey.  Shortly before sunset Roger decided to empty the diesel jugs on deck into the main tank.  We then switched to the small tank to run it until it ran no more.   That way we knew at a minimum, what we had in the main.  We had another painless night, this time crossing the remainder of the New York shipping lanes.  There are always a few moving targets that you just can't figure out but we managed to dodge them and watch the sun rise on the Jersey shore.  While we were checking in with Marianna at about 7:30 am the small fuel tank emptied.  Roger was able to switch back to the main without having to bleed the system but we knew we needed to make a decision about continuing.  By this time we were going to be arriving about two hours after optimal tide and knew we'd have to fight part of the way up the Bay.  We didn't want to be stuck fuel-less half way up Delaware Bay so it was into Cape May for us.  After a brief stop at a Sport-fisher filled "Marina & Resort" to fill the tanks we headed back out  and onto our path to the Chesapeake.

By 2:00 pm we knew we'd be traveling in the dark if we wanted to make the Bohemia River.  We'd already traveled two nights and were beginning to fade.  The thought of negotiating against the current in the dark sounded like more than we were up for so we set our sights on Reedy Island.  Reedy Island is a small anchorage behind an old dike just south of the C&D Canal.  Most people pass it by but it called out our name.  After we dropped the hook the temp was still pleasant so we enjoyed our first showers in about eight days.  That and a full night of sleep and all was right with the world.

On Friday October 23rd we finally made it to Chesapeake Bay.  Yay!  In celebration I broke the brand new watermaker.  When you make water it needs a place to go. I was OK on the making water portion of the program but am still learning to use the valve system to direct the made. There are 3 valves to direct water to each of our 3 tanks and another valve for sampling the water. Well, I failed to make any of these 4 choices so the water had no place to go so it promptly ruptured a hose in the weakest spot it could find. Having so recently installed the machine  Roger knew where to look once I gave him the details of my screw-up.  We stopped for the afternoon in the Sassafras River where repairs were made and once again,  happiness reigned. 

Saturday morning the 24th found us debating the merits of heading to Baltimore.  We had hoped to visit friends who own a houseboat there but the weather forecast was odd.  "Southeast winds 15-20 with gusts to 35"  This translates to a reasonable day of sailing with brief periods of gale wind interspersed.  Despite the unfortunate angle (almost on our nose) we decided to let the boat do her stuff.  She was as comfortable as an easy chair though I must admit I did get my left sock wet.  Other than that it was a pretty reasonable trip.  We were in Baltimore by 2:00 and at the Speakeasy eating dolmades and drinking beer with the crew of the Whale Tale by 3:30.  Dinner of Flintstones-sized prime rib at a local spot called Michaels ended a classic Baltimore day of visiting. 

Sunday after laundry, showers and a little grocery shopping we met up with Barbara, first mate of the Whale Tale, for a trip to the farmer's market.  Barbara related that after we parted the previous evening they returned to their snug little vessel for a bit of knitting and TV watching only to be startled by an interloper.  The details were quite lurid, involving a drunken sailor, a cell phone, weaponry and the police.  I believe we got more sleep than Barbara & Rod.  Despite their late evening they were still up for a trip to the market and brunch at Mama's on the Half Shell.  Nothing stops the crew of the Whale Tale!.   Brunch was followed in quick succession by a visit to the Gecko for the first half of the Patriots game from Wembley Stadium.  The second half was viewed back in the casual comfort of the houseboat.  The Patriots won and we all wended our way back to our respective homes.  As usual, never a dull moment in Baltimore.

Monday the 26th of October found us a mere 24 miles from Annapolis.  After a lazy morning we made our way out past Fort McHenry and out the Patapsco River.  By 3:00 we were tied up at the dock at Camp Burley where we have been running errands, cooking and fraternizing with our fellow sailors for several days now.  After one more stop, this one in Annapolis proper, we will head down to the southern Chesapeake  to wait for a weather window to head offshore for a shot to the British Virgin Islands.

2009-2010  Trip Logs

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