Lucky to be in the Bahamas

We feel blessed, prepared, thankful, and happy to be living this naturally isolating lifestyle on our boat in the Bahamas during this global pandemic with COVID-19. Of course, we are also concerned and hopeful that family and friends everywhere are taking the necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy.

Lone Star anchored at Crab Cay looking toward Stocking Island

In late February and early March, we spent a week in a Long Island anchorage and two weeks exploring three remote and quiet anchorages on Cat Island. We thoroughly enjoyed beautiful sails between these idyllic and remote islands. The fresh baked cinnamon swirl coconut bread purchased on Cat Island is the best we’ve found so far! The locals have been kind and welcoming.

Lone Star in Ruins Bay, Crab Cay

There is always something to do on our boat so life afloat is not boring. As you can tell we enjoy remote areas and each other’s company. We often write about projects and chores, but we have play time too. Like swimming, snorkeling, listening to books or podcasts, watching movies, playing games, reading, walking on shore, often on a beautiful beach or a trail on a deserted island like Crab Cay near Great Exuma. Anita enjoys finding new recipes and Tom likes eating!

Tom rebedding chainplaits under new awning Anita made.
New rope clutch covers to protect from sun damage

We were lucky to return to Georgetown on March 16, the day before the virus related curfew began in the Bahamas. We met up with friends who borrowed a car. It was very quick to drive to our favorite stores to stock up on fresh and frozen food. The pantry is still well stocked so no need to purchase food with a long shelf life. I almost took a picture of the well stocked shelves; no sign of hoarding here. Freight is still moving into and around the Bahamas. People are restricted to the islands they occupy and are required to stay in their homes unless absolutely necessary to obtain food, fuel, or medical assistance. The Bahamas were also early adopters, instructing all to wear masks in public, wash hands thoroughly and often, and maintain physical distance at all times.

Beautiful Sand Dollar beach

The Bahamas have done a very good job in slowing the spread of this virus through curfews, and weekend lockdowns which mean: stay at home as nothing is open. As of May 21; there are no known cases of COVID within 100 miles of us; in the Exuma chain of islands.

Rain squall approaching Param, Georgetown in background

In early April the Prime Minister released a new protocol for pleasure craft. All boats needed to register their intentions: go home or stay on their boats and shelter in place. We chose to continue to shelter in place. They took a survey of all the boats in Elizabeth harbor to establish a starting point of our self-quarantine. For nearly five weeks we were not allowed off our boats (we did do a lot of swimming). Water, fuel, and groceries were delivered to us and trash was picked up weekly. We were so blessed to have a handful of locals and businesses cater to our needs and ensure we were doing okay.

Never tired of the view, neighbor is Little Sister

The cruiser community here is so positive and uplifting. We have actually had a lot of fun learning about our neighbors who have sailed or motored here from all over the world. The morning VHF radio net includes weather, news, departures, arrivals, upcoming VHF radio community events, boaters needs, and concludes with a joke or final thought for the day. At least six nights a week; except Sunday, we have volunteers host evening VHF radio events. Local Bahamians are encouraged to participate as well. Tom has hosted three events so far: a couple discussions on ‘boat hacks’; changes we’ve made to our boats that others might want to try, and a very detailed discussion on multihulls for cruising. Tom talked so much the radio over-heated. We put a fan on it and asked others for input to allow it to cool. Other topics we’ve enjoyed on the VHF radio: Night net: cruiser interviews and psychology discussions, book discussions and multi-character readings, discussions on diving, fishing, hurricane preparedness, cooking on a boat, Trivia night, joke night, and interactive murder mysteries. Tom has been an adlib actor in the latter five times. He was the nasty secret murderer in at least two. There are actually a lot of laughs in these quirky mysteries with fantastic accents to entertain as well. Here’s a link to a fun video of what Georgetown cruisers did on their boats during or just before this lockdown. Emily is a genius at making videos! We are in this one three times, can you spot us?

Pavilion on deserted Crab Cay

Tom has been a net relay all winter on the morning Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) single side band radio net. He has communicated with boats all over the Caribbean, Central America and out into the Atlantic.

Celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with this. Delicious!!

We’ve enjoyed our warm seven months in the Bahamas. It will soon be time to head to sea and return to New England for the summer. We sure hope the pandemic is in the recovery phase soon. We need to move north for hurricane season. Looking forward to a smooth moonlit passage!

Recipe Sharing

Who loves to try new recipes? There are so many recipes available on the internet today, one can easily find something new to wake up the taste buds or use the ingredients they have on hand. One can also rediscover one of Grandma’s recipes they enjoyed in their youth.

I want to share an app I use to browse the internet for recipes, download them, add my own labels like Breakfast, Cookies, or Bread; add my own notes, alter ingredients, and save to my App. I do not need the internet to access my recipes within the App.

I’ve also used this app without the internet to type or copy and paste recipes from other sources like documents or emails.

This morning I wanted a quick tasty and healthy breakfast. I made Three Ingredient Breakfast Cookies, but I didn’t have any bananas so I substituted drained, canned strawberries. I didn’t have mini chocolate bits so I finely chopped up a 90% chocolate bar. The recipe says to use both quick and whole oats, so chopping some oats in a coffee grinder worked. The cookies were ready to eat in less than 30 minutes and were so delicious. Really looking forward to making these again with many other fruits, like spiced apples, peaches, pineapple, and of course bananas.

Download Paprika and start saving all your favorite recipes with your notes, pictures, and personal labels all in one place. Share the link to your favorite recipes so others can download them into Paprika too.

Sailing Bahamas Out Islands – Long & Cat

On Thursday, February 27 we used a rare weather window to motor/sail east to Long Island, home for nearly 3000 Bahamians. We sadly left our fun friends on Pegu Club, though they were thoroughly enjoying our remote anchorage in Red Shanks. After seven hours and 35 miles we anchored in Salt Pond, Long Island right in front of the prominent cell tower. There are 26 boats here versus the 333 in the Georgetown area. We ventured ashore Friday for groceries and happy hour with cruisers at Sou’ side Bar and Grill. We then set an alarm Saturday morning in order to get to the Farmers Market early. It worked! We found delicious cinnamon buns, honey wheat bread and pineapple tarts. All exquisitely delicious! We moved the boat to the protected end of this large harbor called Thompson Bay, as we expected strong winds for a couple of days.

By Tuesday, February 25 there were 35 boats in the harbor and the wind had abated enough for a cruisers gathering on the beach.

Sharing appetizers, chatting,
Listening to cruising musicians
and Admiring the view

The next day we decided to explore a new-to-us Bahama Island and embarked on an all day sail to Cat Island, sixty-six miles away. We raised the sails and left before dawn at 6:00 am. What a fabulous sail we had! A beam reach, gorgeous sun, a slight swell, just enough to provide a comfortable easy rocking motion any baby would love! We both commented on the soothing sound of the water rushing beneath our hulls. We averaged a very comfortable 6 knots for this eleven hour passage, though the afternoon winds of 15-18 knots, drove the boat faster.

Now there are only five boats in New Bight harbor on Cat Island. We went ashore the next day to visit the bakery and hike to the Hermitage, Father Jerome’s final home and resting place. Here is an official description of this famous highest peak in the Bahamas. We were awed by it.

Yes, these islands are relatively flat!
Entering
Easy gradual rise
Beginning of the Stations of the Cross
Continuing up the path
Steps made the steep parts easy
So reverently hand-crafted
Almost there
Our rest stop
Last station before the peak

The hermitage itself is a three-quarter scale, designed for a single person. We did not have to duck as we are short by today’s standards, less than 5’6”.

Tom in archway, near bell tower
The view
A single bedroom with windows on three sides
Handy sundial

Our return to sea level was easier by a gradual path.

Lone Star to right of center of photo

And those clouds foretold our future. We will have six days of winds in the 20 – 40 knot range. It would be a wet ride to get to shore. So we occupy our time on board with projects, cooking, writing, and reading. Can’t wait for the wind to abate so we can explore some more!

We Love Exuma

What a fantastic place to spend the winter! Temperatures in the 70’s day and night. Many lovely anchorages to choose from, no crimes against yachtsman that we’ve heard of; hitch hiking on shore is encouraged, convenient, and sometimes educational! Beautiful aqua marine clear water and helpful, friendly, caring cruisers surrounding us.

Hiking Sand Dollar with long time friends Steve and Helen on Miles

Many people have commented on the numerous weather fronts and reinforced trade winds since early December. We are thankful that this weather encouraged us to explore additional sheltered anchorages in the Georgetown area. This enabled us to spend quality time with new friends for sun downers, hiking, snorkeling, shopping excursions that included lunch out (yum!), or fun new games on board. Life is good here! Note: Sundowners include bringing an appetizer to share and your own drinks of choice to a host boat to watch the sunset and swap sea stories or ask for advice on a nagging boat problem, or to discuss the next port of call. Fun event to host as well!

Thanksgiving potluck at Sand Dollar beach
Hiking a newly groomed trail to Lumina Point from Sand Dollar via the eastern shore beach that included…
Some wading and …
A swing at the top edge of a cliff overlooking the beach
Christmas potluck Volleyball beach with all the cruisers
Hike to the Monument with cruisers
Enjoying the view and each other
Beach walking
Exploring some plantation ruins
Touring Crab Cay by water
Sundowners with friends
A nearby water spout, luckily no one was hurt though it went right over a friends boat.
Learning a bit of history about Junkanoo courtesy of Exuma Ministry of Tourism

We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon recently at a reception for cruisers and international home owners on Exuma. They offered a wonderful buffet of Bahamian food, raffle prizes included gift certificates for local businesses, a dance demonstration and a brief history of Junkanoo. We learned the tradition was started by a Bahamian slave named Jon Kanu on Boxing Day which was the one day off per year that plantation owners allowed slaves to have off. They chose to begin their celebration of freedom one minute after midnight and beat their drums all day long. Each year they have a theme and their costumes and music represent that theme. This years theme was under the sea, costumes show waves, sea life, and the color of the sea here. Music included “Wade in the Water”, for example. A newer meaning of the word is “Junk made new”; as there costumes and instruments are made from recycled items. Pretty neat!!

Bahamian dance demonstration

We continue to work on projects to improve our floating home. Completing the water maker, a desalinater system has saved us from having to lug and pay for water this winter.

Beautiful sunset!

Love Exuma in winter!

Easy Passage to the Bahamas 🇧🇸

I just reread last years passage to the Bahamas. Thankfully this years passage was nothing like that!

We left Beaufort, NC at 9:45AM on Sunday, November 3rd. Clear blue sky, almost 60 degrees, 10-15 knot ENE winds. Forecast for the next 3-5 days was for light to moderate winds generally behind the beam, nearly perfect sailing conditions for heading south.

This time there were three people to stand 4 hour watches on Lone Star. With 8 hours off between watches it was almost too easy.Brian on Watch When anyone is on deck they are tethered to the boat, our deck naturally slopes toward the sea. Rolling off is not allowed, haha.

We reached the Gulf Stream before sunset the first evening. It was a little bouncier here and the wind slowly veered from a reach to on the wind, then it died down for a couple hours. We motored as needed and made it across around daybreak on Monday. The stream was an unusual 90 miles wide this year, though the fast running part was only about half that.Video courtesy of BrianMovie watching, they also enjoyed a game of Barricade and some Cribbage too!The WindPilot, now called Herman, dons a purple ribbon in light winds to react quicker; it works! Everyone liked using Herman, he’s a lot quieter than the electric autopilot now called Greta. Can you tell we had a German resident on board to name our helmsmen?

Our passage was blessed with beautiful sunsets, some clouds now and then, and a waxing gibbous moon. Not a lot of star gazing, but some.Sunsets Courtesy of Brian

Tom managed to give our daily position report each morning on the Waterway Ham radio net and on SSB with Marine Weather Center twice daily for the latest weather report and weather routing suggestions. Long range radio provides an added level of communications and comfort for us and our families.Our more direct course this year. Tom hit our top speed of 10.5 knots in a short squall.

Our comprehensive overhaul this past summer paid off. Tom discovered a worn soft shackle during his daily deck check. He modified the way the boom vang connects to the mast step to prevent future chafe. The only other minor difficulty was the engine wouldn’t start twice. Tom fixed it each time by bleeding air out of the fuel line. He might have left a little air in the lines when he replaced the primary fuel filter in Beaufort.

On the afternoon of Friday, November 8th, Anita shouted, “Land Ho”! Eleuthera is a long skinny island that took most of the day to pass. We quickly connected all our electronic devices to our island WiFi hot spot. Ah the joy of being connected; while still at sea!

We arrived at Conch Cay Cut, the entrance into Exuma Sound and Georgetown at 3AM on Saturday, November 9th. Still quite dark, moon was setting just before we entered the narrow channel. Anita hand steered the remaining two hours to arrive at Sand Dollar Beach just before sunrise. After the anchor was down, bridle put on, and the sails covered Brian took this pretty picture of the pre-dawn sky.We all attempted to get some rest as we’d stayed up all night, but soon decided sleep could wait another day. Talked with family and sent messages and just admired the view!We sailed 740 miles in 6 days 19 and a half hours; motored less than 32 hours. Easy passage. It is 82 degrees for a high and 72 at night. Jimmy Buffets tune, “The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful” is constantly playing in our heads!

We motored over to Georgetown on Monday to check in with Customs and Immigration. Then took a tour of the town and a celebratory drink at the Peace and Plenty outdoor bar. Lunch at Jillian’s Jerk Chicken and Ribs, mmmm good!

Pictorial highlights of our walk around Sand Dollar:Pudgy all alone on the beachWe found a cavePath to the oceanBrian climbs a Palm TreeFirst view of the windward side of Stocking IslandFound this sign laying in the sandTom and Anita, morning sunStocking Island

On his last afternoon in the Bahamas, Brian rigged the Portland Pudgy and went sailing:The winds were too light. Tom sailed too, but promises to try it again when there is more wind. All too soon we were saying farewell to our nephew and thanking him for sharing in this fabulous, memorable, and easy passage to a favorite winter island.

On Schedule to Escape Winter

Last year we arrived in Beaufort, NC on November 21st and left for the Bahamas on November 29th; the temperature was 31 degrees. It felt like winter. This year we arrived on October 23rd with plans to head for the Bahamas around November 1st. Daytime temperatures were in the 70’s and lows were in the 50’s. Only two boats in the anchorage when we arrived. More yachts populated the docks and anchorage on the weekend.Bird landing on the water atThe public dinghy/fishing dock, directly across from the anchorage.

We are very impressed with our new super quiet Torqueedo long shaft electric outboard motor. The driver can feel a slight vibration in the tiller. However, it is SO quiet it is difficult to know if it’s turned on! Listen to this short clip:On Saturday we walked up to the Farmers Market. They were celebrating Halloween a few days early.Many of the vendors wore costumes and had candy for the children. Yummy Bacon twist!

Delicious meat pies and farm fresh fruits and vegetables!!

Although we did a lot of provisioning in CT before we left; it was time for the final stock up before heading to the Bahamas. We rented a car for two days, rather than borrow an hour at a time from the local marina. No rushing through the stores this year.First run to Walmart, hardware and pharmacy.

The first half-day of having a car we made the first shopping run. Then Anita picked up our nephew Brian at the bus stop 4 miles away. He flew in from Germany and had been traveling for at least a day and a half. Brian wants to sail to the Bahamas with us and experience an ocean passage. We arrived on Lone Star just at sunset and the insects were feasting on us! After a good nights sleep, a big breakfast and a cup of coffee; Brian spent hours going through our three medical supply boxes and compiled a shopping list to bring them up to snuff. We threw away a lot of old stuff that was no longer sterile or usable. After a light lunch, Brian and Anita went shopping for another round of provisions and filled the small dinghy again. Meanwhile, Tom worked on replacing the electric autopilot motor with our spare and preparing the deck for the replacement rope clutch. He found the old electric autopilot motor had three bolts that were all very loose. It still worked but squealed a lot before the bolts were tightened. Therefore, we still have a working spare, yeah! Unfortunately, once again the shoppers returned right at sunset and again got caught feeding a variety of insects. Guess this is the down side of being here early. No frost yet to reduce the insect population.

The final half-day with the rental car Anita shopped to top off the freezer and refrigerator. Before leaving she put all home-made frozen food for the passage in the cooler. She was satisfied when all the groceries neatly filled every available cold space. We are provisioned to the max! And the black boot stripe at the waterline is still visible; not over loaded.Picture courtesy of Brian

Our weather window was originally Friday, then Saturday. It finally settled into a firm Sunday morning departure. This gave us time to do our remaining chores slowly and enjoy Beaufort a bit more. Like going out to eat at a local barbecue place and doing laundry one last time. Brian volunteered to go up the mast to lubricate and inspect the mast track and rig.He wore our GoPro camera; so cool to see what he was seeing remotely on the iPad. We could snap pictures from the iPad! Pegu Club is featured in the center of this next photo from the top of our mast.Despite our busy days we really enjoyed playing Hearts with 5 players for a couple evenings. So glad Jeff and Kimberly could join us and see a bit of Beaufort, NC.

On Saturday afternoon we started our last project before the passage south: making the Portland Pudgy into a lifeboat and storing it on deck.We are so blessed and thankful to have Brian’s help these last four days of preparation. He was very quick to pitch in and do just about anything and he’s a great cook too. Chicken jambalaya, is on the menu during our passage. A big pot of chili has been made, so it must be time to sail away.

On Sunday, morning November 3rd we raised the anchor and headed out to sea. We did it; left America without running the diesel cabin heater!

Next up; Passage to the Bahamas.

Heading South in the ICW

October 16th dawned cloudy with the promise of rain. A cold front was predicted with strong winds behind it. We elected to motor through the rain for two hours to find a more protected anchorage than Hospital Point in Portsmouth, VA. We were the only boat to anchor in a small cove at statute mile marker 10 in Chesapeake, VA. The highest wind we saw in this protected anchorage was less than 20.Picture courtesy of Tammy Merritt from her house

There are two routes south at the beginning of the Intracoastal Waterway or ICW. You may recall last year we chose the Dismal Swamp and suffered propellor damage when a thirty foot tree was kicked up by the wake (waves created by a boats forward motion) of the boat in front of us. The depth of this man-made canal has shrunk over the years from ten feet to perhaps six foot deep as there are years of debris from the overhanging trees.Dismal Swamp 2018

The width seems narrow in spots, especially for sailboats with masts; due to the overhanging trees. We’ve read that there is a large amount of duck weed floating in the swamp this year. Engine raw water filters have to be cleaned often.

This year we chose to transit the ever so slightly shorter route, sometimes referred to as the Virginia Cut. We found depths from 10-16 feet most often and the shorter canals merged with rivers and were often quite wide. There were a lot more birds this year as well. Larger flocks and more of a variety of species. Great Bridge Lock is only a 2 foot rise, quick and painless.Great Bridge LockLooking back to the lock entrance, this crane was dredging near the entrance. Don’t you think the below picture of the winding North Landing River looks wider than the Dismal Swamp?North Landing River

We anchored in Shiloh, NC after nearly 9 hours and 50 miles. It was a long day at the helm, too narrow and many twists and turns to use autopilot. We had the engine on all day. Though the jib gave us a boost with the wind behind us for about 10 miles in Currituck Sound. I was surprised that there were so few boats migrating south at this time of year. However, our night time anchorage had about a dozen boats.

The next day we sailed downwind across Albemarle Sound and down the Alligator River. This Alligator river swing bridge was closed for a couple weeks this fall. So glad it was repaired by the time we arrived. It’s a long way around this stretch of water! We anchored for the night just before the Alligator/Pungo canal and enjoyed this beautiful sunset.Alligator/Pungo CanalMorning fog in the beginning of the canal.

We chose Pungo Creek rather than Belhaven Marina for our next stop-over as the remnants of a tropical storm was predicted to race by. We found good holding near the Marina and enjoyed a walk on shore before the blow. Locals were extremely friendly and the neighborhood was filled with very friendly dogs.A TriStar 46 docked in Pungo Creek. Similar design to our Lone Star which is a TriStar 39.

On Monday, October 21 we sailed south to one of our favorite spots: Oriental, NC. This historic town is so welcoming and we love the unusual and practical supplies at the local consignment store. Last year we sold a Porta-Bote that was too long for our davits. This year we dropped off a gasoline outboard and a series drogue. They were replaced recently by a Torqueedo electric outboard and Shark drogue (sea anchor.)Bringing the Series drogue to the consignment store in Oriental, NC. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant behind Tom.

We motored the remaining 24 miles to Beaufort, NC two days later. We completed our southern trek down the ICW in only a week. So excited to have reached our final destination before heading offshore to sail south to the Bahamas!

Next up Preparations and Passage to the Bahamas.

Sailing the Chesapeake

It felt so good to kickback and relax for a couple of days in the Bohemia River. Click the link to see that this is located in the very northern part of Chesapeake Bay, only a mile or so from the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) canal. We had one windy/rainy day then woke up to fog. On the third day, October 4th, we were well rested and ready for a downwind sleigh ride to Annapolis, MD.The anchorage on the Bohemia River.Sailing south with Miles.

The seas were choppy as we headed south and wind gusts were in the high 20’s when we decided to lower the mainsail and continue at 5-7 knots under jib alone. Miles did the same. We wondered if they had an advantage as both their sails are roller-furled while ours are the old style hank on. Our self-tacking jib has a built in wishbone shaped boom, you can’t roll that up! However, self-tacking means we have no lines to pull when we turn or tack the boat. Near the end of the day, we both anchored in Back Creek just south of Annapolis. Miles found an anchoring spot half-way down the creek, near all the Marina’s and dinghy docks. We were directed by a local to a beautiful and quiet anchorage at the head of the harbor, a bit further in. The annual power boat show was underway and we wanted to avoid the crowds and boat wakes in Spa Creek. We met the crew from Miles on shore the first morning to take a much needed mile hike to the Giant food store, a large grocery store. It felt great to stretch our legs and get some exercise! So glad we had the Burley Trolley with us, so much easier to wheel our groceries rather than carry them.That evening we went to a nearby pub to celebrate Helen’s birthday. Great dinner and fun time with them and another cruising couple.

The following day we took our dinghy, laundry, and shower bags down to a marina near where Miles was anchored. They charge a small fee to tie up the dinghy and use the showers and coin laundry. Unfortunately, Miles received a message that their boat was dragging. It wasn’t, but they did re-anchor right in front of us. Much easier to play cards or enjoy afternoon tea!Steve and Helen in their dinghy near their boat, anchored in front of Lone Star.We were literally anchored at the end of the navigable creek.

We were able to rendezvous with Jeff and Kimberly on Pegu Club one day. We last saw them in July at SYC in Groton, CT. We are looking forward to Christmas in Georgetown Bahamas with them!

The Annapolis Sailboat Show started Thursday, Steve and Helen acquired some free tickets and spent the day browsing the show. We elected not to go to remove the temptation to buy more stuff. However, Steve had shown Tom a nifty new device he recently purchased and Tom asked him to buy one for us if they were discounted at the show and they were. So now we own a Bushnell imaged stabilized monocular.After a week in Annapolis we saw a weather window to head south. Can’t pass on fair winds and following seas! On October 11th, we enjoyed a fast 48 mile sail to Solomons, MD.A Chesapeake Lighthouse.We elected not to go ashore here as the full moon tides, called king tides in this area; resulted in flooded docks and the main street too.

We left Solomons just before noon and motor-sailed 35 miles to Little Wicomico River, MD. A fisherman’s haven and a beautiful spot on earth. We entered the narrow entrance channel at sunset, against the current, and through a small fleet of local fishing boats.Such a peaceful and beautiful anchorage.

After a quick warm oatmeal breakfast, we fought the current once again to leave the river. We sailed 26 miles to Jackson Creek in Deltaville, VA. We had a quick lunch then went ashore at a nearby Marina. We had a surprise guest jump in the Portland Pudgy dinghy on our way ashore: a fish jumped into the boat, trying to escape a bigger fish most likely. Tom threw him back in.

The next day we hiked across the peninsula to Norview Marina to take pictures and video of a Seascape custom 55′ trawler cat Tom has listed on yachtworld.com

That was our last stop in the Chesapeake for this year. On October 15th, we sailed the rest of the way down Chesapeake Bay and across Hampton Roads into Portsmouth, VA. We anchored at mile marker zero of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). This is also known as Hospital Point on the Elizabeth River. We only spent two weeks in the Chesapeake this year compared to just over four weeks last year. We had fewer stops waiting for good weather this year. The goal is to not run the cabin heater, which means getting south earlier.

Next up transiting the ICW.

Passage to Cape May and Delaware Bay

We left Block Island before sunrise on September 29, 2019. We expected a boisterous downwind sleigh ride as a strong cold front had passed overnight. Rather than 15-25 knot North winds we experienced 10-12. As the wind was still behind us, sometimes the apparent wind was not strong enough to fill the sails. So we motored whenever our speed dropped below 5 knots. We had a wonderful overnight sail at sea with only occasional ship traffic. Just enough to keep the on watch person from boredom.

Mini-lesson on AIS:Zoom in on the chart plotter above to see what AIS (Automatic Identification System) targets look like directly on our chart. See the green triangles those are clickable links that show details about a ship or navigational aid. Details for ships include length, beam, tonnage, speed, direction, etc. and most importantly “closest point of approach” or CPA. The computer tells you whether you’re on a collision course or not. We currently have an AIS receiver built into our VHF and it is networked with our Chart Plotter. Soon we will install our own transmitter, so other ships can see our boat statistics.

Ironically it took us 39 hours, the same as last year; to sail 220 miles to shelter in Delaware Bay. As we began our passage in the morning this means we had a nighttime arrival. When crossing the Delaware Bay ship channel at night, Anita noticed an AIS target (ship) on the Chart Plotter on a perpendicular course with the name CG Eagle. We recognized the name of this cadet sail training ship. Their home port is right next to ours at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. She called them on the VHF to verify their preferred direction for us to pass. They were heading out to sea into a strong current and the same current was pushing us sideways up the bay. We paused by heading into the bay to let them by.Our buddy boat Miles (at sea in the above photo) led the way into the Harbor of Refuge at Cape Henlopen on the south shore of Delaware Bay at 9:30 pm. Yeah, we get a full nights sleep and successful passage completed. Amazed and pleased that we managed to keep our boats within VHF radio range for this ocean voyage.

We both headed out again early the next day to ride the current and the wind up the Delaware Bay with a gentle southerly breeze. Early morning clouds soon gave way to a deep blue clear sky.Cape Henlopen ferry.A Lighthouse in the bay.Salem nuclear power station.

We managed to have the current with us most of the day and through the Chesapeake Delaware Canal. We anchored in the Bohemia River on October 1st just before sunset., pictured below.We traveled 75 miles in 11 hours. We’ve earned a lay day! Miles and Lone Star plan to stay put for a day or two.

Next up exploring the Chesapeake.

Countdown to Sailing South

Last year we only had two and a half weeks after Tom retired to settle our affairs, load the boat, and head south. It was fast paced with long days to get everything on and off the boat as needed. It was also exciting to be following our dream of going south and cruising full time once again. This year we planned for specific maintenance and upgrades to be done during our July haul out. Sure, some boat projects have kept us busy this summer. However, we’ve taken the time to enjoy ourselves and even sail a little.

This year September was all about spontaneity. In the last blog I mentioned that we have been looking for a life raft. An emergency device we might need, but hope and pray that never happens. Tom suddenly found the perfect lifeboat for us. It is NOT an inflatable raft people sit in and hope to be rescued. A concern we have about these expensive and heavy rafts are that only qualified inspectors can and must service them every 2-3 years. Our lifeboat is a Portland Pudgy rigid dinghy. Checkout the link to see more details. This well designed short boat can be used as a row boat, motor boat, sailboat and most importantly to us it’s a lifeboat. We hope that by using it every day we will also be more familiar with how to use it in an emergency.

Tom found a slightly used 2016 Pudgy in Eliot, Maine for a decent price. Soon we were driving to Maine to inspect and purchase it. Yeah, it fit easily in the back of the van! Phew, that’s a relief. We were not looking forward to trying to hoist 125 pounds on to the roof.

We continued driving north to visit Anita’s sisters in Newcastle and Nobleboro, Maine. After all, we were less than an hour away. I can’t believe I have no pictures of our visit. How disappointing! Fun dinner hosted by Eva, with Linda and Janet and all our spouses too. Tom had a few days to catch up on computer work while Anita pitched in to help Linda get ready to move to a cottage in Nobleboro.

Next stop was Portland Pudgy itself in Portland, Maine. We met with the owner and filled out an order for the remaining equipment needed to fully outfit our Pudgy as a sailboat and lifeboat. We actually decided to leave our Pudgy there to have the sailing hardware installed by them.

In the mean time, we drove to the middle of New Hampshire for a last visit with Tom’s Dad. A generous helping of chili and corn bread was welcome after a walk around Wellington State Park. Thank you Ilse for the fresh Blueberry pie, blueberry crisp and jelly too!

We then returned to Portland, Maine to pick up our dinghy and accessories and drive back to Connecticut in the same day.

On our over night voyage from Block Island to Delaware Bay we carried the lifeboat upside down on the port bow.It fits well on our Davits and has a clever harness under the dinghy for added support and security.And it passed the test of carrying our first grocery run with our Burley Trolley. A versatile folding hand cart or bicycle trailer.A week later than last year, we saw a weather window for our first passage south. Similar to last year we were on shore when we saw the end of a rainbow over our home. A good sign it’s time to leave!Our sail to Block Island on September 28th was fast and fun; 26 miles in three and a half hours. We met with Steve and Helen on Miles and we both planned to leave for Cape May early the next morning. So happy to be heading south again!