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!

Sailing, Shopping, and Socializing – Ahh Summer!

Lone Star anchored at Flat Hammock, near Fishers Island, New York in late August.

It appears our social calendar was as full as our project schedule this summer. Anita often took time for a brisk morning walk around nearby UCONN campus, sometimes with friends, always admiring the view! Tom preferred to obtain his exercise in the college pool and commute to and from on his bicycle.Avery Point Lighthouse on UCONN property.View of SYC from UCONN.

We first met British friends Steve and Helen Lawrence 32 years ago in Barbados after we each had crossed the Atlantic in our respective sail boats. Since then they have completed a circumnavigation. We were so happy to see them cruise into our harbor in their latest boat named Miles. Here they are after a tour of the Nautilus submarine museum in Groton, CT. We were so lucky to have use of a car this summer. Trips to Defender marine supply store, hardware stores, laundry and grocery stores whenever we needed to go were invaluable. We were prepared to use Uber all summer. Tom’s generous sister and her husband offered us the use of their van. Thank you, dear sister!! The car was also a big help when we decided to move into a better priced storage unit and downsize our belongings a bit more. We were also able to visit our son a few times and help them out with a garage insulation project. We were grateful son, Alex and fiancé, Jenna came to more than a few Friday night picnics at Shennecossett Yacht Club.

Tom’s next Project was installing a new lithium iron phosphate battery bank. He was so happy when he moved the old AGM’s off the boat!So sad that I don’t have any pictures of the beautiful blue inner cells, but here is the finished project. We still have a separate engine starting battery for now. So far we are very happy with the new lithium battery bank. It delivers a steady voltage consistently. We’ve even used the microwave and a heat gun with no voltage drop as our old batteries did.At the end of August Tom’s Dad and friend, Ilse came for a short couple night visit. We sailed to Flat Hammock and anchored for lunch and a walk on shore. What a beautiful day. So glad they made the trip!Our next event was to attend a 100 year celebration at the Montville, CT power generation station that Tom worked at from 1979 to 1987. Great time visiting, reminiscing, and touring the current facility. The food was fabulous as well. We decided to do the majority of our provisioning for the Bahamas right here. This was facilitated by the van we borrowed. This time we stocked up on some dried fruits: apples, peaches, and strawberries. Repacked in vacuum sealed bags for longer storage.Tom is always researching new marine products. We’ve been looking for some specific emergency equipment. Things we want to have on hand, but hope to never need. The first was an emergency rudder or perhaps a tiller arm. What he found is a very compact sea anchor: a Fiorentino Shark Drogue. It is deployed on a bridle off the stern and can be used to steer the boat by bringing it close in on one side or the other. The boat will turn to port if you drag it close to the port side of the boat. It doubles as a reliable sea anchor when the seas are rough by adding a weight to the thimble at the tail end; and once again dragging it behind the boat on a bridle.The item stores compactly in itself and is smaller in size than a basketball 🏀. Very well engineered product made of high quality materials. We purchased one and will practice using it as it is so easy to deploy. The YouTube videos for this product were fun to watch and informative.

Next up will be our second piece of needed emergency equipment: a life raft.

Please click the links (blue underscored words) in our blogs to learn more about the places we’ve been and the friends, organizations and products we support and love!

Summer Socializing and Upgrading Lone Star

Cruising organizations have been a valued part of our lives for nearly 40 years. Shennecossett Yacht Club (SYC), the Corinthians and Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) to name a few. Whether to lend or receive a helping hand, to swap stories or learn new things. The enduring friendships from these organizations are the best. In June we had the pleasure of attending a cruisers gathering at Essex Yacht Club hosted by three separate cruising organizations: SSCA, Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) and Salty Dawg Rally. Wow! What a great group of positive people, wealth of knowledge, great speakers on a variety of topics, and just a lot of fun!A hands on demonstration inflating a life raft inspired us to research options for our cruising situation.Touring various cruising boats was fun, educational, and a much appreciated benefit to this gathering!

Immediately following this inspiring weekend we hauled Lone Star out of the water for an overhaul at Essex Boat Works. We can’t say enough about the helpful and knowledgeable staff at this well run yard. We need this 100 ton lift due to the beam/width of our trimaran.We began by removing the rudder, shaft, and engine. You may recall we had an alternator problem last winter; we burned up or shredded more than a few v-belts. Although the engine ran well, we thought it was due for an overhaul and paint job. Great opportunity to clean the engine room and continue to sound proof it too.We added new engine mounts, all new hoses, new Balmar alternator with serpentine belt, a new starter and rebuilt the injectors.The folks at Essex Boat Works are so helpful, we highly recommend this knowledgeable staff!We removed the four noisy cockpit drains that were just at the waterline and replaced them with closable valves, one on each side about 8 inches lower. Note the old AGM battery bank in the above picture, replacing them with lithium was another summer project. Tom and I scrubbed the yellow stain and numerous black marks off the topsides. We also had the yard do some touch up painting on the topsides and they added a black boot stripe and keel guard; a vinyl strip on the port transom, to prevent wear when lifting the dinghy on davits. After reinstalling rudder, new shaft, and old propellor we were ready to launch. The rudder is now painted white for better visibility.After launching late on Friday, we had to spend one more weekend in Essex as the rebuilt starter was messed up. Essex Boat Works generously replaced it with a brand new one the following Tuesday. This haul-out was expensive, but considering all that we accomplished, it was well worth it. After 30 days, we were on our way down river and back to our mooring at SYC.Old Saybrook Lighthouse at the mouth of the Connecticut River.

Tom immediately started the next project charging the individual lithium cells for our new battery bank. Then wired them all together to top balance them. At the end of July, we rented a car for a Kintz family lake vacation in New Hampshire.Ahh relaxation, sailing small boats, swimming, and spending time with family, a slice of heaven on earth.

Upon returning to Lone Star we saw a good weather window to head to Block Island. We wanted to try a new arrangement for the WindPilot self-steering, need to be sailing to do that! Oh yeah, there are a lot of boats here in the summer!Nice new dinghy dock in Great Salt Pond makes it very easy to reach town and get some exercise.Who doesn’t enjoy a gorgeous sunset? It never ceases to awe and humble us. We live in a beautiful world 🌎.

Please click the links (blue underscored words) in our blogs to learn more about the places we’ve been and the friends, organizations and products we support and love!

Successfully Escaped Winter

Our passage from sunny Atlantic City to our home base at Shennecossett Yacht Club in Groton, Connecticut took 36 hours. At three different times we were able to sail at 5 knots. However, that amounted to only 5 hours of the passage. So we motored on a calm sea the majority of the time. Thankfully, our electric auto pilot did all the steering of this open ocean passage. About 4 hours south of Montauk, Long Island we were surrounded by thick fog. Thankfully we are equipped with radar, and AIS positions of most commercial and some pleasure boats appear right on the chart plotter. We also recently added an automatic fog horn, so it was automatically blasting our position to boats as an auditory signal. We were disappointed that the fog never lifted all day. We had to slowly feel our way into our own little harbor and trust our instruments!A big thank you to Bill Hooper for taking this photo of us from E deck! It made us smile to hear the cheers of fellow club members that were on a boat at the nearby dock. Thank you for the welcome home at 7:00PM on Saturday, June 1st.

About a half hour later we caught a brief glimpse of shore, yes we are in the right place! We were still outside covering sails, setting up our porta-bote dinghy, and stowing our offshore gear.Spring was cool and very wet here in New England. However, after a cold front blasted through the next day, the long range forecast looks pretty good. When we first arrived we were enjoying sleeping in slightly cooler weather: high 50’s and low 60’s rather than 70’s. Daytime highs have been in the 60’s or 70’s so quite comfortable. Summer weather finally arrived at the end of June.

The first project Tom worked on was a used Burley Travoy Trailer. Soon he was attaching it to his bicycle and pedaling to the hardware store with the empty propane tank strapped to the trailer. Tom said he had to keep looking back to be sure it was still there. He used to commute to work on this bike, so he feels right at home. Tom’s current project is replacing our inverter.

Anita is back into the groove of a morning exercise walk around the nearby UCONN campus. Tom signed up to use the UCONN pool this summer.

We are learning about grocery delivery via Instacart and Loving the convenience of placing Amazon orders too. We are currently hauled out at Essex Boat Works, more on that in the next blog. We are making lists and ordering parts for various projects.

It’s good to be back in familiar cruising grounds, meeting up with friends and family.

Statistics for our round trip to the Bahamas:

Total miles: 3822 nautical miles

Total Engine hours: 368 (note: 47 hours were for charging purposes only, solar day was too short to charge batteries through clouds; add more solar)

Total hours sailing: 355

Nights at sea: 18

Nights at anchor: 226

Nights at a dock: 8

Total days away: 253

We plan to sail south again in the fall; we loved escaping winter! Summer weather is so much more pleasant when living on a boat.

Passage from Beaufort, NC to Atlantic City, NJ

We enjoyed our stay in Beaufort, NC. A bit of boat maintenance, cooking, and restocking interspersed with walks in this neat seaside village. Anita also did laundry behind the General Store, and got a haircut by Beverly; who gave her a great cut last fall. We had a delicious dinner at Aqua to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary; we were at sea on the 17th.Yes, you see three mini desserts: creme brûlée, chocolate cherry torte, and banana custard. All were fantastic!

On the first day of the long Memorial Day weekend; Saturday, May 25, we motored down the busy channel and out to sea. We had a good forecast for the next 3-5 days. Although we were directed to stay coastal in case something developed after 3 days. Winds were light until 4PM. Then we had fair winds and following seas to round Cape Hatteras! We enjoyed a steady 8-9 knots during the overnight hours. The first days 24 hour run was 151 nautical miles, the way life should be!

The next day, the wind became lighter so we motor-sailed. On our third night out, we were surprised by a sudden windy squall with lightning and a brief light shower at 3AM. Anita took the sails down in 30 knot winds and noticed the jib would have to be repaired in the morning. The trailing edge of a batten pocket was shredded from chaffing on the radar dome. We had lost a short batten. Anita applied two stick on patches to the area and hand stitched them to help keep them in place.

That same evening our weather router told us we should pull in on the New Jersey shore no later than noon tomorrow. We chose to head for Atlantic City. We had to motor-sail the last 17 hours in light winds. With light winds and near shore we were invaded by biting flies and other little insects.

The wind picked up as we entered the inlet and the skies were looking mighty dark. Tom had a hard time lowering the mainsail as one of the plastic slides had broken and was wedged in the sail track. Somehow, he managed to muscle it down. We found a snug and secure anchorage in a good size creek on the eastern shore, just around Rum Point. We arrived here at 10AM on Tuesday, May 28 and plan to stay a few days until the weather settles down. Look at the progression of the weather in this series of photos.

SunriseApproaching Atlantic City At our anchorageOur statistics for this passage: 370 nautical miles, 71 hours total passage time, engine on for 38 hours.

We took the time to catch up on sleep, fix the main sail slide, and inspect and retune the mast.

One night a nearby single-hander had come by for a visit at sundown. He was only aboard about 10 minutes when a big thunderstorm came up with lots of wind and rain. There was also a tornado watch. He raced back to his boat. We were anchored directly in front of him and suddenly we were dragging our anchor. The wind shift happened so fast it plucked our anchor out of the mud. We started the engine and held ourselves into the wind with the engine in gear while raising the anchor. We reset it in our original spot, and put out lots more anchor chain. Eric came back aboard the next day for a visit before heading up the ICW toward New England. Hope to see him again this summer.