Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Too Many Miles to Mile Hammock Bay (sub nom Mosquitoes, Power Boats and Cockroaches)

Spooner's Creek, south of Beaufort NC
Saturday, Oct 31, 2009

We left the mosquito infested Broad Creek, just north of Oriental NC, at our usual 7:15 a.m headed for Mile Hammock Bay located in the midst of a US Military Base. If successful this would be our second 70 plus mile day.

Our plans to jump offshore at Beaufort and sail to Charleston were quashed by the South Winds and 7 foot waves we would meet along the entire route.

Arrival at Beaufort NC was anticipated just before noon. This was low tide and it was thought the incoming tide after noon would act to push us south along Bogue Sound enroute to Mile Hammock Bay. Our destiny did not support the particular destination.

As we travelled we were passed by several trawlers. These big tubs of nautical lard like to travel at 7 to 7.5 knots compared to Meredith's 6.5. This means they must speed up to pass us or risk being pushed to the side if Meredith diverts to avoid obstacles.

As each trawler approached a sailboat to pass it would radio the slower boat and offer "if you slow down we will give you an easy pass". The trawler would then continue without changing its speed leaving the sailboat to slow down and then burn fuel to return to normal cruise.

These egocentric little powerfreaks figured the sailors should bear the entire penalty of velocity and fuel consumption initiated by their desire to pass. God forbid these little pinheads have to alter their own course or speed.

Here is our approach: When a trawler comes up on our stern we tell it to keep its speed up and give us a close pass. If the Powerknobs would actually do this then we could draft in behind them and suffer no wake whatsoever. Piece of cake. Except that these simple instructions seem to exceed the ability of even the most seasoned trawler operator.

One guy rode our stern for half an hour calling us six times to ask us to slow down so he could give us a nice slow pass. We kept telling him to keep up his speed and give us a close pass.

Finally he realized he would have to increase his fuel burn to get by rather than foisting the cost on us. He wants to pass he can speed up. He passed.

His transom was 6 feet past Meredith's bowsprit and I turned sharply to draft in behind him. The stream of expletives from the radio was startling. His wife stood on her stern platform shaking her fist at us. What about "I will draft in behind you" is so difficult to understand?

Powerboaters. All that money and no pilot.

Approaching Beaufort southbound along Core Creek we passed Bock Marine, our favourite haulout yard and radioed ahead to the Jarrett Bay Facility to ensure staff were on duty for fuel. No response.

We had not thought about Jarrett Bay much until friends, Randy and Donna, aboard Babykiller B, raved about it. Although there was no reply to the radio call we decided to put in anyway. Usually on seeing a boat pulling up to the fuel dock motivates some activity by even the most recalcitrant dock staff.

Not so at Jarrett Bay. With strong south winds, running 15 knots, our entry was easy - we just pulled up beside the dock and held the boat steady while the wind pushed us in. No one was there to welcome us or unlock the fuel pumps. The place looked like a set out of The Terminator - you know the future view where everything is dark, smoky and destroyed. The night scene at the bridge from Apocalypse Now would be another approximation.

Leaving the fuel dock sans fuel was problematic. That south wind that so graciously assisted our entry now protested our early departure. We fought our way off the dock and into the current of Core Creek and continued on our way happy that we carried 15 gallons of fuel on deck and "who needs Jarrett Bay anyway".

A few hundred yards downstream we found "Trueworld Marine", the affiliate of Jarrett Bay where Randy and Donna had left Babykiller while they returned to Toronto. It was new and first rate. Part of Jarrett Bay seems well run.

Two miles further and we found ourselves once again in Beaufort. Not a big deal let me assure you.

You enter Beaufort alongside a large terminal used to offload ocean freighters. Once past the building you turn sharp right and continue staight for the entire length of Bogue Sound. Make that 30 miles or so.

Right at the sharp right hand turn live the only fish available in all of the waters of Beaufort.

Thirty or Forty fishertwits are always to be found drifting midchannel of course trying to catch whatever desperate lifeform might choose the industrial backwater of a forgotten little port as its home. They (people and fish) are everywhere and none of them look up. Until you pass a little closer than they think you should. Then they offer an opinion. Meredith returns a nonverbal response.

Today being Saturday the rest of the powerdorks were out in their fast fishing skiffs/boats/whatever buzzing the transients. There were thousands of them - highpowered cockroaches of the sea buzzing the passing sailboats and trawlers like a flight of Messerschmitt's attacking a squadron of B29 allied bombers.

We made Beaufort by noon which was low tide. My ability at predicting coastal tide effects is not what I had hoped. Our 6.5 knots on the water were magically transformed into 4.5 knots on land as the tidal inflow worked against us rather than for our boatspeed.

A bummer this as it meant we could not reach Mile Hammock during daylight.

Instead we put into Spooner Creek where I write this now. Then I must find a way to neutralize the newly filled propane tank that seems to be spewing gas out of its safety valve.

Until it stops hissing I am not going near the vented propane locker.

Silly Kids, Exhilaration and Hair Cuts

Albemarle Sound, South of Elizabeth City
October 29, 2009

After an unintended 3 day stay in Elizabeth City, it was time to go. Crew were awake half an hour before sunrise. The Beta, our diesel, was warmed, nav lights lighted and our lines cast off within 10 minutes of the Sun reaching an elevation sufficient to light the crab pots that litter the departure channel out of EC.

Even with this preparation we were the third boat off the dock. Apparently everyone was anxious, not to say desperate, to leave. Eastward we sailed into the bloodshot quickening dawn.

Wind was up even as we left the dock and our sails were set forthwith. Within 10 minutes of leaving the dock we were making 6.5 knots under sail alone. We ran the Beta to feed the batteries.

The first sip of the freshly made coffee from Connie was just tickling my nose and palate when we ran int0 the bloody crabpots.

It is an unwritten law of the sea that the only specimens of aqueous species worthy of being caught inhabit the waters of the CENTRE OF THE CHANNEL. Why are the crabpots always in the middle of the channel?

I quoted my dear departed mother: "Damn bugger shit piss hell".

Evasive manoeuvers are usually called for when you enter a field of crabpots but today Meredith did not need her diesel. We had our sails up. With the Beta slipped into neutral we could forget about catching our prop and sail through those suckers with nary a thought. Well, we did share the occasional thought about how tasty it would be if the keel did accidentally snare a pot full of large crabs for dinner tonight.

The wind continued to build strongly as we left the southern approach to to EC and entered the wide bodied Pasquotank River. Wind was oscillating from North to North East at a brisk 15G25 by the time we entered the river proper.

It was a lovely sail. A lovely sail.

Entering Albemarle Sound it occurred to us that we could sail this body of water too. Formerly the Albermarle had been too snarly or too calm to attempt with sails up except for stability.

It would be a glorious day if we could master the Albemarle under sail. Both crew were game.

The only problem was the consistency of the wind. And the following sea.

OK. The only two problems were the wind and waves. A 4 to 5 foot following sea just off the port quarter made helming an interesting job. The autopilot was not overwhelmed but neither was it very good at maximizing the boat heading for best speed given the wind.

At the wheel I felt like the epitomized "workman" from Fritz Lang's Metropolis - chained to a wheel requiring Promethean endurance and frequent adjustment.

Initial winds were so strong and gusty we put a double reef in the main. Still Meredith maintained a decent 6.8 knots. It was all that fancy work on the wheel.

Ahh but the fickle wind faded.

A reef was shaken out. Then the second reef was shaken out.

As the wind built a double reef was put back in.

The rule on Meredith is that we reef when the boat heels more than 15 degrees. I am allowed to shake out a reef when the boat velocity is below 4 knots unless the first rule would be violated.

I like to shake out reefs to go faster. The Budget Committee insists that reefs go in at 15 degrees of heel. Insistence trumps liking.

Reefing and unreefing was a near full time job.

Connie took over on the helm and we were both employed full time. Occasionally we would swith jobs and Connie would start the incessant trimming necessary to keep us in motion at peak speed on a level keel. Take it in, let it out, bend it on, drop it.

Each time I went to the mast to put in or shake out a reef my lips would quiver as I recited to myself my mnemonic:

Two Silly Kids Having Their Hair Cut.

Topping lift - Snug up the topping lift
Sheet - Ease the MainSheet
Kicking Strap- Ease the Kicking Strap (the Boom Vang)
Halyard - Ease the Halyard
Tack- Secure the mainsail at the reefing point Tack
Halyard - Snug up the Halyard
Clew - Tighten the Clew

Like most good ideas this one came from someone else, in this case Tom Cunliffe. He's British and they use the term Kicking Strap instead of Boom Vang.

All the hard work paid off and we sailed the Albemarle in style.

Then we sailed into the Alligator River and made another 20 miles with no diesel power, save only for the brief period as we approached the Alligator River bridge - It is too low to sail under and it is hard to stop a sailboat with sails flying and the wind behind her.

It was a glorious day, a glorious day.

We were third boat into the anchorage which filled with an amazing array of vessels we had met in earlier sailing: Oneday, Witchcraft, Kinvara, Mystic, Navigator, Second Wind and more.

A full 12 hours of sailing, rest among friends and fresh orange juice for the rum (Oh yes, I forgot about the fresh orange juice - another time but you should have been there).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fenders and Stratacasters

From this you can discern both this morning's weather and last night's difficulty

Still in Elizabeth City NC.
Oct 28, 2009 8:30 a.m.

Meredith found herself staying yet another night in Elizabeth City NC. The unpleasantness of yesterday's dawn bled into a panorama of "slight chance" of rain. Rain is not a matter of probability. It is a 100% or a 0% matter. Either it is raining or it isn't. Yesterday it was.

Meredith is waiting for a new sail to be completed by the Doyle loft in Annapolis. We plan to be in Beaufort on Friday to rent a car and pick it up. Once installed we will take the boat offshore at Beaufort and sail to Charleston in a two day avoidance of the twisty inland watersNorth and South Carolina.

Not being in a hurry we spend another day in EC waiting for the forecast 20 knot SW winds to pass the Albemarle. Whenever possible we avoid winds right on the nose and nowhere do we do this more fastidiously than when approaching the Albemarle.

While the Budget Committee did laundry I spent the day getting to know Peter aboard Kinvara. Nominally we were troubleshooting his nav lights which would not turn off. Peter had installed new Led Bulbs in his nav lights and discovered that when he turned his lights off they still shone just not as brightly. An unexplained and uncontrollable current loss was afoot but the voltage was so low (1.5 volts) that it was not detectable when incandescent bulbs were in the circuit. The low volt low current LEDs were different. Any uncontrollable current drain is worrisome in a sailboat which relies so heavily on its battery bank for convenient living.

Connie and Jane, Peter's wife, viewed the Albemarle museum and went to a wine and cheese party while we stumbled through the project.

Other people's boats take a good deal of getting used to before you become comfortable with their systems. You would love to rip the boat apart and get a good feel for her systems but of course the boat is owned by another guy. A guy you like and who might not know you well enough to trust you to take his boat apart on him. Worse, he may know you well enough never to let you near his boat with a screwdriver in hand.

Peter's boat is a French built Jeanneau, a lovely boat but the French had different wiring standards than North America. Guys will understand the confusion that is generated when you see 5 yellow wires and 5 red wires all running to a DC common bussbar. Yellow wires are negative. Red wires are positive. The two are never connected directly to each other. They are joined through a "load" like a light bulb or fan.

By day's end we had isolated the errant current source to a badly wired aftermarket cigarette lighter plug. Not Peter's doing. A bit of wiggling and the nav lights went dark.

Today I am going to return to Kinvara with some parts so we can properly repair the damage done by two well meaning but slightly ham fisted and confused pseudo electricians.

Last night we suffered some sea rage on the wall to which we are tied. The wind pattern although light coming into EC had a great long fetch and the wave pattern struck Meredith just aft of the beam. The waves then bounced off the concrete wall to which we were tied and rebounded against Meredith's other side. When two waves meet the wave amplitude (height) is the sum of the amplitude of each of the two waves. Then of course the waves reflected from Meredith back onto the wall and then back onto Meredith.

Severe agitate cycle.

About 2 a.m. the boat's motion was so pronounced that the bow fender board rode up and over the pylon from which it was fending off. The board came down on the other side of the short pylon. Rather than fending off the fender board was actually holding Meredith tight to the pylon aggravating an already unpleasant grinding away.

In 10 minutes Connie and I were both awake and 3 minutes later we were standing on the concrete wall retying the fender boards "extra" low to prevent a recurrence. Luckily Meredith has a tough rub rail and suffered no damage from the attack.

Fender Boards

In Elizabeth City Meredith is tied to a concrete wall with two short pylons sticking up to keep the boat off the wall.

It is impossible to tie up to a pylon using just fenders. Fenders are not long enough even if you tie them lengthwise. In tidal waters you cannot tie lines tight enough to hold your boat stationary against the pylons. The boat moves forward or aft and then your fender is no longer between you and your boat. The solution is fender boards:

Meredith carries a pair of 2 x 6 inch boards painted with Cetol. During normal sailing and anchoring these boards are fixed to the stanchions and we tie the jerry cans of fuel, gas and water to them.

If we tie up to a wall the boards are removed and hung overboard at the pylons over top of three or four fenders. In this way you have an 8 foot surface to run along the pylon ensuring that your boat does not suffer undue damage.

Soon the sun and wind will rise and the fog will burn off and blow away. By then the wind will have kicked up the Albemarle so we are going to while away another day in EC.


Most readers will be aware of our opinion of the lousy canvas work done for us by Genco Marine of Toronto. Today's pictures were taken in clear air not behind the clear plastic windows in our enclosure because had we taken pictures through the those plastic windows in the overcast/drizzle/fog conditions you would have seen little.

Most canvas installers will offer customers a range of clear plastic options from base to the ultimate "Strataglass". Strataglass is high maintenance and expensive but very clear.

However it never looks like this:

The image that looks like shadow is not shadow - it is indelible flaws in the material. Not on the surface in the middle of the material. This is on a clear sunny day.

After three days of sewing all of the dodger by hand Connie is still left with this to finish:

All of the thread is rotted out. Every stitch has pulled out. This is after 5 years.

Just because you have a 14 foot boom does not mean you should also have a 14 foot mainsail cover. It is so much classier to hike your main up around its armpits like an old man's trousers.

The same theory applies to the staysail boom. Good Genco design practice indicates a 10 foot staysail cover is most attractive on a 12 foot boom. Sort of looks like "floods" or dork pants.

Thank you Genco.

There's more but I have bored you enough.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Going to Take it Slow and Easy Today - Elizabeth City

Oct 27, 2009
City Dock, Elizabeth City, NC

Coming through the Dismal Swamp, Meredith decided to take a layover at the Visitor Centre. The Visitor Centre is located about 5 miles from South Mills Lock, the south end of the Dismal Swamp. In real life the Centre is a Rest Area on a 4 lane divided highway. However it touches our waterway at one point.

The State has built a nice dock allowing overnight stays. It will accommodate 4 boats.

Three nights ago we had 14 boats. Two nights ago 12. We just rafted up across the canal.

You can imagine what the crew of 14 boats do when they have their first landfall after sitting out a 5 day Nor' easter followed by 3 days of hard running in adverse wind and seas.

And we did. Twice.

We waited at the visitor centre as the next good stopping place, Elizabeth City, would be full. There was bad weather on the Albemarle Sound and EC is the only place to wait for calm water.

The docks at EC are free but there are a limited number of them. It seemed better to us to wait in the friendly protected canal till the boats in EC got clear conditions and vacated the docks.

Good Plan and we set off on Monday morning with a forecast of N 5 to 10. This was perfect for crossing the Albemarle so EC would be empty.


Have you noticed a thread in the recent posts about the disparity between forecast conditions and actual? Monday was no different.

Within minutes of locking out of the canal and into the Pasquotank River, which would carry us to Elizabeth City, we knew it would be a difficult day. Wind was 15 to 20 knots out of the east and it was very cold. This was in the relatively protected Pasquotank. We could only imagine what conditions were like in the open water at EC.

The way boats were moored to the visitor centre dock left Meredith last to leave. This placed us at the end of a 12 boat train all looking for free docks in EC. Good luck intervened at the South Mills Lock when the 11 boats ahead of us had occupied all available wall space and we had to go to the head of the line and raft up to what had been the lead boat. Sob. Sob.

When the lock doors opened Meredith flew out of the gates and ran the Pasquotank at 6.5 knots. This river is a windy piece of water with several detours waiting to snare unwary navigators. This was our 4th time down the river and we had local knowledge. The bigger faster boats behind us slowed to a speed that allowed them to navigate the twists and turns for themselves.

The boats behind us were following the first rule in boating: NEVER follow another boat anywhere. Ever.

For the last three miles Meredith slowed to 5 knots and the bigger boats, now free of the navigational muck of the Pasquotank, speeded up to 7.

Arriving at the Elizabeth City bridge we asked the bridgemaster to hold off on opening the bridge until all of the faster boats had caught up. This way the bridge would not have to interfere with traffic and would open only twice - once for fast boats and once for slower ones.

When the bridge opened six of us ran straight for the docks - which were full!! Of course this is when the cold wet wind was joined by full on rain.

Fortunately there was overflow parking along a wall. Room for everyone but everyone had to dock along a wall on our lee sides. In the rain.

Everyone got in. Early arrivers stood in the rain to help the later, slower boats and ensure orderly positioning and room for all.

This morning, despite the fog pictured above and a forecast of heavy rain later today, all the boats, every boat in EC save the 3 biggest have left. Meredith will join Mystic and Kinvara down the wall so we do not have to walk so far for the parties.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Table for the Mathematically Disinclined

October 24, 2009

Meredith made the 11:00 a.m. locking at Deep Creek Lock - she floated again at 10:45 just as the lockmaster was opening the gates. Actually she did not float but the tide was high enough that using our winch we were able to drag ourselves out of the mud using our anchor. [ No primordeal similes were injured in the making of this blog].

As beautiful as the Dismal Swamp is, especially now that the colours are turning, it can be tedious after the 3rd or 4th passage. Ten boats came through the lock with us yesterday and all ten tied up at the free dock at the visitor centre located mid canal. Six of those boats set off this morning for Elizabeth City. Weather on the Albemarle is snarly for the next two days and you all know what we think of the Albemarle, even in good weather.

It is a relief to be freed from the rigor of the daily destination schedule. Even better - we ran out of store bought bread this morning and Connie is baking fresh as I write.

Nothing will happen for the next couple of days.

Elaboration on Deviation from Course v Speed Needed to Equal or Better Time to Destination

A couple of people have asked for this and I am never one to avoid labouring a topic.

There is a chart toward the end for sailors who hate pedantic rambling and would prefer to just get the info.

In this age of GPS course plotting some very civilized sailing practices have fallen into disuse. Many crew are put to inconvenience and discomfort as a result.

When your direct route from A to B involves ploughing into uncomfortable waves or braving nasty wind too close to the nose for civilized sailing the proper practice is to deviate from the destination to ease the boat motion. Sailing across the waves at a 40 to 60 degree angle is usually much smoother and if you can get some wind in the sail - main or genoa - it will work wonders s for both the motion of the boat and its speed.

So why do people seem so intent on sailing the rhumb line come hell or high water?

The problem is twofold:

firstly: once you deviate from your direct course you are no longer taking the route calculated for you by the GPS or chartplotter. The helmsman cannot watch his progress against the reassuring computer drawn rhumb line. (The Rhumb line is a straight line drawn on a nautical chart from point A to B. It is not really straight but only appears so due to the scale of the chart.) This lack of computer support seems to throw a lot of people into a state of apoplexy.

secondly: Obviously when you deviate from the "direct" route you are no longer taking the "shorter" route. People then often assume the longer distance means longer travel time. This proposition is not correct.

The first and most important reason to turn off the wind and waves is to grant increased comfort to all aboard. Even if a trip takes longer why not enjoy it a bit more. A smooth ride for 12 hours is preferred to the hobby horsing bumper car ride the lead boats from Deltaville were on yesterday even if the GPS did think it would take only 11 1/2 hours.

Often diverting from a direct course can be quicker as well as smoother. Here is how it works:

The diagram was drawn in Geonext, a free geometry program and the table was prepared in Quattro Pro. The ideas came from Tom Cunliffe, Bill Siefert and the Budget Committee - especially where comfort at sea is concerned:

A boat at Point D wants to go to Point A. It is making about 5 knots pounding into that famous Lake Huron short chop.

If the skipper proceeds direct from Point D to Point B he must go 9.0 nautical miles.

If the skipper turns off the direct course and proceeds instead to Point C he must then go 10.77 nautical miles.

Both Point B and Point C are the same distance from the destination, Point A (they must be as they are both points on a circle which has point A as its centre).

The angle of deviation is 13.82 degrees.

Assume the boat is Meredith and she is making 5.0 knots on the course from Point D to Point B.

If by deviating from the straight line course the skipper can increase his speed from 5 knots to

secant (13.82 degrees) x 5.0 = 1.029812 x 5.0 = 5.15 knots

then he will be just as close to his destination. If by deviating the skipper can increase his speed more than .15 of a knot then he will be arriving early.

If he also gives his passengers a smoother ride the skipper wins twicefold.

You can check the math on the chart that follows. Find the row that says "Boat Speed" is 5 knots and look across to the 10 degree line. It says for a 10 degree deviation you must increase your speed to 5.1 knots to arrive at the same time. For a 15 degree deviation you must increase your speed to 5.2 knots. You can read between the numbers to get close to 5.15 (I mean really how accurate is your knot meter while pounding into a 5 foot short frequency sea).

On Meredith it really does not matter how much out of the way we are going. A smooth ride always wins. I mean we are only going 5 kts. What's our hurry?

When you use this to justify deviating make sure you consider the effects of having to "finish" the trip: make sure the wind and waves are bearable when you have to make your course good.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Signs and Canting: Cosining and Secanting

October 23, 2009. 5:00 a.m.

(this blog over written and posted over the day so the references to angle of heel differ as did our angle of heel)

Meredith is sitting at the Deep Creek Lock, northern entrance to the Dismal Swamp. She is listing 15 degrees to starboard and stuck firm in the bottom. Tide has another 2 hours to ebb.

We went to bed in 7 feet of water at low tide. At 5 a.m. we awoke to the bilge pump alarm sounding incessantly. It was hard to roust out of bed. The boat was tipped 15 degrees and I was poised to crush Connie who was sleeping on the low side. Fortunately for my diminutive wife I am pretty good at somnabulent mountain climbing.

Yesterday was a long day: Meredith left Deltaville VA at 7:00 a.m., navigated the double dogleg entrance around the various shoals and headed out into the Chesapeake southbound for Norfolk.

Per usual we were met with unexpected weather. Forecast 5 to 10 kn Deltavill winds turned out to be 20. Waves of 1 foot were in fact well disguised 4 to 6 footers on a short frequency. Wind was about 20 degrees off the nose; waves were dead on.

The 8th boat to leave the anchorage we scanned the horizon for clues as to how we should set sail. Lead boats are usually a good source of information. Not always.The first boat was a good 2 miles ahead and we could see it hobby horsing in the waves. No sails up. Those guys were taking a beating.

Everyone had followed suit. This was curious as the wind was strong and the waves had everyone on "agitate cycle".

It mystified us a bit as a bit of sail flying in these conditions is like oil on the water; it smooths the ride tremendously. We figured the wind was too close to the nose to permit the bending on of sail.

So we turned off the wind 20 degrees. Instantly the boat settled down, her clipper bow taking the choppy seas remarkably well. Of course the 20 degrees we added to the wind angle allowed us to sail not motor - well motor sail anyway.

Our boat speed shot up from 5.4 knots to 6.7. No kidding. Motoring into the waves and wind gave us 5.2 to 5.4 knots. Sailing a little bit off course added 1.3 knots to the boat speed. Of course we were no longer sailing to Norfolk but we were going fast.

How did this help us? Well, a bit of trigonometry comes into play at this point. I will forgo the lecture and just say that if you speed up enough from a course deviation you may arrive at your destination quicker than you would by "steering direct".


The Math (skip to next section if this bores you)

The formula is this: [speed while on direct course] x [secant of the angle of deviation] = the speed you must attain to meet or beat the direct course.

In our case:

speed sailing direct to course: 5.4 knots
angle of deviation: 20 degrees
secant of 20 degrees: 1.0642

existing speed x secant of course deviation = 5.4 x 1.0642 = 5.75 knots

Meredith would have to make 5.75 knots on the new course to make the same progress toward Norfolk.

We were making 6.6 so it was money in the bank.

End of Math


Not only did we make faster progress toward Norfolk but we had a smooth ride, ok, pretty smooth.

The proof was at journey's end after we changed course to correct for the deviation - we had to sail back the distance we went astray. We left Deltaville 8th in line and arrived in Norfolk 3rd. Masterful.

As sailors we are always looking for omen and this seemed a good start out of the Chesapeake.

All was not a success on the day however.

Rather than stop at Hampton Roads or Hospital Point or Tidewater Marine for an overnighter we carried on to anchor at the foot of Deep Creek Lock. It was a race as there is one bridge blocking our way and it did not open until 5:30 p.m. Sundown was 6:20. We had 2.5 nm to make after the bridge to get to the anchorage.

We made it. Barely.

Our anchor set nicely and we dined in the cockpit as low tide came and went. I remarked at low tide as to the fact that we had 7 feet at 7 o'clock.

Then came 5 a.m. and the incessant bilge alarm. Then the difficult crawl out of the berth - mountain climbing in predawn is not recommended. Meredith had a 10 degree heel.

The depth sounder, installed in the bow, read 15.4 feet and the rudder moved freely. So both ends of the boat were free of river bottom. We were hung up on our middle.

During the nocturnal high tide Meredith had drifted over and was now stuck on a bar.

We tried motoring and kedging. Nothing worked easily so we looked at the tide tables, confirmed that I had erred in not allowing for Daylight Saving Time and that the tide would rise 3 feet by high tide. We went back to bed and slept crosswise on the berth.

It is now 9:00 a.m., the heel maxeds out at 20 degrees. The tide is now rising. We anticipate getting off the mud bar presently. However we have missed the 8:30 a.m. locking and I am pissed.


Another Math Lesson

You can calculate the depth of water under our keel at low water by again calling on the principles of trigonometry, in this case using cosines.

[The depth of keel] x Cosine of [the angle of heel] = your new draft

5 feet x cosine (20 degrees) = 5 x 0.93969 = 4.7 feet.

The water was .3 of a foot or 4 inches too shallow.

This formula is very helpful in demonstrating the effectiveness or as I usually allege the uselessness of "pulling your mast over" to get off a grounding.

When a boat runs aground the first remedy offered by the anchorage water rats is to take a halyard and try to pull your boat over from the top of the mast. This, they believe will get you off the bottom.

It is of course mainly good fun for the guys in the dinghy.

Ihave never seen a boat freed by pulling on its mast. Certainly not by a dinghy.

A boat with a 5 foot draft would have to be pulled over 25 degrees to get a 6 inch "reduction in draft". Imagine a rubber dinghy pulling a 25000 lb displacement hull over 25 degrees and you begin to see the where futility sets in.

Here are some common cosines if you want to use them and the resulting draft if your boat draws 5 feet:

5 - .99619 resulting draft - 4.98 feet
10 - .98481 resulting draft - 4.92
15 - .96593 resulting draft - 4.83
20 - .93969 resulting draft - 4.70
25 - .90631 resulting draft - 4.53
30 - .86603 resulting draft - 4.33
35 - .81915 resulting draft - 4.10
40 - .76604 resulting draft - 3.38
45 - .70711 resulting draft - 3.54


We await the 11 a.m. locking

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

55 Knots and Nothing to Report

Solomon's to Deltaville.

Left at 8:00 a.m. Arrived 5:00 p.m.

55 nm in total.

Seas were glass. Apparent Wind N 0.0 for 4 hours then S0-5 on the nose.

Nothing to report.

Unless the strange man on the cataraman behind us falls off his mast. While we work through our sundowners we all watch.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For a Boat That Doesn't Believe in Luck We Sure Have a Lot

Does This Look Like Luck to You?
This Photo taken this afternoon shows fuel
sampled from the supply line to the Tohatsu.
The Horizontal Line demarcates water - below the line
and fuel - above the line

While in Annapolis we had to remove and clean the carburetor on our normally reliable Tohatsu 9.8 outboard. This was necessary because the poor outboard was refusing to start. Also it was necessary because the Annapolis Tohatsu tech wanted $250 plus and 3 days to do the job.

So we did it.

The Outboard ran fine for 5 days and then started to act up. But it still ran.

Yesterday (Monday the 19th I think) we left Annapolis in cool, not cold, weather heading for Solomon's Island, our first stop on the way south from Annapolis as we leave the Chesapeake. Spending a week of forced inactivity due to the Nor'easter left us in poor physical condition for an 8 hour day on the water. By 8:00 a.m. we were up, had had a coffee, and were waiting for the temperature to climb to something requiring only 4 layers of fleece under the offshore jacket. That moment came at 9:30.

Sails up in anticipation of the forecast 20G25 winds and 4 foot waves we counted 25 masts ahead and behind us, all headed for Solomon's on leg 1 of the run south.

Within 2 hours most of the surrounding sails were furled or flaked. Actual wind was 10G12 not enough to drive any of the boats Our main was so wet from 5 days of rain we left it up for another 2 hours just to dry it and air it out.

About 4:00 p.m. we rollled into the labyrinthian system of creeks, streams and rivers that subdivides Solomon's Island into dozens of smaller parcels. There are miles of beautiful protected streams in which you can set your hook. But that has nothing to do with the post.

Just as we come past the last red marker we were attacked by a well groomed couple in a high speed dinghy. Tony and Linda Sellick, owners of OneDay out of Bayfield Ontario and slip mates of ours back home had spied us as we entered.

We had not seen OneDay since a blustery afternoon in Nassau back in January.

Tony had found a great protected and uncrowded anchorage up Leeson Creek he told us. "Lead On" was the order from the helm and sure enough we were delivered into a placid pool of tranquility. Good holding, no noise and decent neighbours.

We invited OneDay to join us at the Holiday Inn for Happy Hour - $5 appetizers and $1 draft but Linda had already started dinner. They informed us that Randy Chamberlain and Donna Querenguesser, friends of Meredith for years had docked their converted Bertram fishing boat Babykiller B at the Holiday Inn Dock.

This was looking up.

We dropped the outboard onto the dinghy using our patented backstay-handybilly-wifeondeck outboard hoist and set off for Babykiller B and a cheap night out.

That worked for about a minute. We stopped to talk to a Canadian boat that had followed us for most of the trip south and which had anchored only a few meters away. Departing for the bar from that boat our dinghy made about 50 meters and quit.

Quit. Dead. No Start.

Luck - The First

We were just getting the oars out to row home when Tony, noticing our plight from his cockpit, came over in his dinghy, also powered by a Tohatsu 9.8, and gave us a tow. As he towed he asked us if we wished to come by for a drink.

Luck - The Second

Beer on OneDay is even cheaper than beer at the Holiday Inn and Linda put on a great spread of beer accompaniers. Tony showed me his Raymarine 80 Series chartplotter/radar with the cool overlap feature and, as sailors do, we discussed failures and how we overcame them.

Tony and Linda (Honest She's In There)

Rowing home we slept well deeply burrowed into the duvet.

Next morning I set to finding some parts for the Tohatsu realizing that I was going to have to tear down the carburetor again. This time I was resolved to replace the gaskets as the old ones were cracked and swollen.

Luck the Third

Firing up the Acer netbook I went immediately to the site I had bookmarked which offered fast delivery of parts at reasonable prices. I reasoned we could avoid going ashore until Elizabeth City and have the parts shipped there.

The online Tohatsu parts place had its one and only place of business in Solomon's. No kidding. Right in the town we were in.

I made up the order and emailed. Immediately I called the phone number to see about pickup of parts.

Luck the Fourth

The gruff and direct voice on the phone confirmed the order but informed me he had moved his stock to his house for the off season. Bummer. However he offered, if I could get someplace in Solomon's he would be happy to drive the stuff to me.

Luck the Fifth and Sixth

Our friends Randy and Donna on Babykiller B were planning a late departure (seeing as how they make 25 knots an hour while underway). They agreed to accept delivery of the parts - oh, and would we like to come by for coffee and showers?

The Babykillers are oft teased about their espresso machine - the first alteration they made to their 30 foot fishing boat as they readied it for cruising. Teased maybe but we have never been dumb enough to turn down a coffee made in that phenomenal device.

30 minutes later we were sipping lattes in a warm Bertram 30 getting our towels and soap ready when the parts guy shows up. He had added a fuel filter and spark plugs to the order. "If you fouled the carb you fouled the plugs my friend". I agreed and thanked him for his superior vision.

Randy on Babykiller B his Bertram 30
which travels under the nom de fin Snowbird

Caffeinated and scrubbed we bid farewell to Babykiller B and returned to Meredith to remove and clean the carb.

That job done and the Tohatsu running just as it should if I wouldn't feed it water instead of fuel, we planned to hit Happy Hour. Connie, who had been sewing all afternoon when not helping me bleed gas lines, felt we had earned it. Where the Budget Committee goes so goes the boat.

More Luck

When we moved Meredith to be closer to Babykiller B we anchored just off the Holiday Inn. Immediately in front of us was Mystic a Hunter 42 we first met in Waterford NY last fall. They joined us for Happy Hour as did the crew of Duet a Passport 42 which had seen me working on the Tohatsu and come over to make fun.

The book is closed on today but I can tell you I will not buy a lottery ticket for a long long time. My luck has been running too good to mess with.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nor'Easter Day IV

The temperatures dropped and the rain started on Wednesday. Today is Saturday and the rain has not only not abated but it has strengthened. The times when the rain lets up have almost disappeared. The wind, forecast to weaken yesterday and then today has found new energy sources. Sunday is forecast gale conditions all day. Gales are declared when wind speed is 35 knots or more.

Going ashore is getting to be an act of desperation. The crew of every boat dinghies ashore every day.

You can only sit in the dark and the cold and the creeping damp for so long. Then something breaks.

On Meredith we have reverted to all the usual tricks to alleviate cabin fever. Books have been read. Small inside jobs have been done and redone. Correspondence is fully caught up. All the children have been called. Twice.

Most evenings we dinghy over to the 6th Street dinghy dock and take a walk into Eastport to visit friends Randy and Donna. Randy and Donna have a dock with access to good showers and laundry. Not that we are using them but it sure is nice knowing rich people. The nightly bottle or 2 or 3 of decent wine and Connie and Donna's nightly dozen streamed crabs keep people sane.

The dinghy rides are brutal. Wet stinging rain and freezing temperatures freshened even more by the forward motion of the dinghy can get you down.

Today we went into town and caught the Green bus. We had nowhere to go and nothing to do. We just rode the bus. It was so nicely warm and offered a view which, although wet and gray, was very entertaining to two sodden persons stuck on the hook.

The Green Bus is good for this as it takes a full one hour to complete a full circuit of its route - twice as long as the yellow or orange or Gold bus.

As anxiously as we seek out entertainment it develops we are not alone.

Back on Meredith after our bus run today the interior was warming nicely from our ceramic heater. A knock on the hull interrupted the whisper quiet fan. Quickly Connie opened up the companionway concerned that our boat had committed some sort of offence to its neighbours.

Not so. A single middle aged man in a Collins Bay hat and heavy weather gear stood in his dinghy. He had stopped by for a chat. It was pouring rain, the mercury in the thermometer had put on its fleece overcoat and this guy is standing in a flooding dinghy wanting to chat.

So did we and so, since our guest refused the hospitality of the boat, we all stood in the rain and the cold and chatted trying to be heard over the drone of the generator - the generator powering that nice ceramic heater located only 4 feet from where we stood. Chatting. Yeah. We are all on the edge and in desperate need of human contact.

Turns out our visitor, Gabriel, shares mutual friends, Benoit and Andree, a couple with whom we traveled the ICW last year. Gabe and Ben and Andree all keep their boats at the Collin's Bay marina back in Ontario. Poor wet Gabe was single handing his boat, Eva Luna, to the Bahamas from Collins Bay and Ben and Andree had suggested he watch for us.

After 4 days alone on his boat he came looking. Although he refused an invitation on board today we will make it a point to see him tomorrow.

Unless the forecast of gale force winds turns out to be true even in the anchorage.

Tonight we will have an extra drink. Tomorrow may be an alcohol free day.

Damn I hate those alcohol free days.

May You live in interesting times as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Finally Some Casabas

Today we set a record all time since the inception of record keeping low temperature for Annapolis.

You can guess what it was colder than.


Meredith wanted to leave Annapolis immediately following the boat show. Last year we stayed in town for a week and got caught in a 4 day storm of continuous ice cold rain and temperatures to match.

The storms, accompanied by high and gusty winds out of the North East are called Nor'easters. These storms are hated and feared on coastal North America from Labrador to Georgia.

Newfoundland fears them as well but being a taciturn race they never mention it. Since the storms last only 4 days the septuagenarian set in Florida normally doesn't notice them until they have long passed. And then it is only because their heating bills went up that month.

Intending to avoid a repeat of last year's experience we planned a timely escape from Annapolis.

Of course we had to wait until Tuesday, the day after the show, for the sailmaker to take his measurements for our new genoa. Then the rigger could not accommodate us until Wednesday. So...

Thursday departure it was to be.

Thursday winds were out of the North East 20 - 25 gusting 30. Rain. Drizzle. Fog. Vis 1 - 3 miles. Today the winds are out of the North/North East at 20 - 25 gusting to 30+. Rain. The forecast for tomorrow is the same as is Sunday.

That makes it, what? Say Four Days.

Leslie Owen, a local resident, fellow Cabo Rico owner, our sewing coach and newly acquired good friend, tells me her father always said "A Nor'easter takes 4 days to leave.".

Nor'easters are cold and wet. Very cold and very wet.

After enduring a single day of cold and wet we devised a plan in which Meredith would endure the 20 knot winds and rain to make a one day run south. The weather forecast promised more favourable conditions further down the Chesapeake towards Norfolk.

To be ready to move we thought we would pull up the stern anchor and side anchors we had out and move to a ready location. Several good anchorages had opened up after the boat show as attendees left to head south.

Meredith was anchored stern to shore in a North South configuration. Caught in a strong West wind a week ago we had put out an anchor off the starboard side to hold Meredith in place. Now of course we had strong East winds right over the port beam. With the wind off the port beam our formerly starboard anchor was taut off the port side.

Weighing the side anchor was a treat. Back Creek where we are moored has a gelatinous bottom of silty oozing stinking black mud the consistency of which resembles old lubricating oil from a dirty old diesel. Actually I am sure the bottom consists of a mix of old lubricating oil together with human waste, old body parts, industrial runoff, heavy metals and probably nuclear waste.

By the end of this escapade all of that coated the dinghy, the port side and decks of Meredith, all of me and most of Connie.

The side anchor, our 30 lb. Bruce, was firmly set. Pulling myself along the anchor rode hand over hand in the dinghy I found where the anchor was set. A useful piece of information to be sure but no help in withdrawing said anchor from its watery hold.

No amount of pulling worked. I wrapped a weighted second line over the rode and dropped it down to the head of the Bruce. With the second line secured on the head of the Bruce the idea was to use the line to motor the dinghy against the direction in which the anchor was set. This would trip the anchor. This method of tripping an anchor by dropping a line around a rode and backing against it is called a "Canadian trip line".

Apparently it doesn't always work.

No amount of pulling by hand or outboard would dislodge that sucker. It did however ensure an even distribution of black ooze over dinghy and operator.

Next we tried securing a halyard to the anchor rode close to the place where the anchor was set. According to theory the halyard, connected at the top of the mast, would exert a near vertical force on the anchor and this would trip and dislodge it from its icy redoubt.

Success. Connie wrestled with the the halyard winch and used every ounce of strength to pull the recalcitrant Bruce to the surface. It was success if you define success as covering your dinghy, your sailboat, the bottom half of your wife and most of yourself in toxic waste.

Thank God for the ceaseless icy cold rain. It was the only thing that kept mefrom breaking out into a rendition of "Swanny".

By now it was close to sunset and light in the overcast sky was on the wane. Meredith still had to be moved in readiness for departure. We made a cursory effort at retrieving our stern anchor - our intrepid Fortress - and when we did not meet with immediate success we just tied a buoy to it's rode to mark its location and set off to reanchor. We would return later to retrieve it.

As we slowly moved Meredith up Back Creek the now heavy but still freezing rain and newly introduced patchy fog did not help visibility. Our moods reflected conditions.

The good anchorage locations that had opened up after the show had now filled. There was no room at the inn.

We returned to an opening close to our original anchorage which showed promise. Three attempts to find purchase in the indistinct bottom and the anchor caught. Connie was on the bow dropping the hook and ensuring the chain dropped cleanly. Three tries kept her there for near half an hour. Backing down on the chain at 1800 rpm I made sure Meredith would not drag in the high and gusty winds.

That done we dinghied to the buoy marking the location of the Fortress stern anchor and with modest effort Connie pulled it straight up and in.

Returning to Meredith we ran the washdown pump to wash the mud from the dinghy and deck of Meredith and the sail covers and lifelines and port topsides and coachhouse roof and everywhere else we could find mud. By the time we finished the rain driven by freezing wind had done the same for us.

We stripped wet clothes off in the cockpit (full enclosure up) and retired below where Connie made hot buttered rum followed by hot soup. Climbing under our marvelous duvet we listened to the wind blow.

Sleep came easily.

As to the efficacy of anchors: we put a 45 lb. CQR, a 30lb Bruce and a #23 Fortress all to a real test of holding in a poor bottom with gusty winds and short scope. We would use any of these anchors without a second's hesitation or a modicum of doubt. It is comforting to discover your anchor may be lost because it was holding your boat too well.

Note: these are all original designs - not a Bruce "knockoff", a Fortress "style" anchor or a CQR "clone". The fate of our boat and its passengers will never be trusted to some cheap copy that is "just as good as" the original. Trust me: It is not.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Melon Days: Honey Dews and Casabas

This entry is for those of you who resist the cruising life fearing it represents the end of challenge and effort in their lives.

This week Connie read up on sewing a proper lock stitch and spent two days restitching all the zippers on the Dodger and Bimini. The zippers were originally sewn with all the care and quality that Genco marine could muster. They have all failed after 4 years. Connnie's will last at least 10 years. She figures the blisters and calluses will take that long to heal as well.

While she did this I took used the internet and learned how to remove and rebuild the carburetor on our 10 HP Tohatsu outboard. Twice. Installing the newly cleaned and serviced carb on the Tohatsu the first time I was dismayed to discover that the darn thing would not start. So it was tear it down and do it all again. The second time Connie got out her 10 power jeweller's loop so we could actually see the parts and their little tiny apertures. Success.

The propane stove had been acting up for a couple of years: The oven would light and reach temperature, sort of, but would then shut down and refuse to light again. Connie had to continually reignite the oven to bake or roast anything. Too often our muffins resembled slightly underdone shirred eggs. NOT the fault of the cook. Most mornings the conditions of the muffins was not an issue - they were hot and we were hungry.

So we read a book on propane stove repair and then tore the oven apart and cleaned out the little tiny aperture in the main jet - I still had some carb cleaner left over. Now we have morning muffins and daily bread that are light and fluffy and fully cooked. No longer is the condition of the muffin a test of just how hungry the helmsman actually is.

This done we installed the second set of genoa cars on the track and the stanchion blocks. On Meredith the Genoa sheets must be removed and rerove around one of the gate stanchions if the wind strength varies and requires the genoa cars be moved forward or aft. Now the sheet runs from the forward the genoa car to an aft car and then to the winch. No more removing and rereaving to be done.

New blocks on the stanchions will guide the furling line aft and outside the line of gerry cans storing extra diesel, gas and water on deck. These cans sort of sit on the furling line and really bind the mechanism (like someone standing on a line you are coiling the binding force is all out of proportion to the weight). Things run smoothly now.

While we were working on the genoa track we removed the bimini vertical post and positioned new fittings obtained from Sailrite so we could fit stainless supports of the verticals. This will eliminate the need for those annoying nylon straps that Genco uses to stabilize the bimini. You know - the straps that vibrate at about 60 db in any wind over 10 knots.

We intended to replace our headsail and hoped to take advantage of boat show pricing to reduce the hit. Removing the genoa we spent a couple of hours taking a full set of measurements. Suitably armed with information we sought prices from Doyle sailloft and a couple of competitors (just to keep things honest). Spike Boston, our favourite sailmaker, was known in most of the sail lofts here in Annapolis.

Doyle offered a well priced sail with reasonable delivery so we made the order. The sailmaker attended on Meredith and measured for himself and took a lot more measurements than we imagined possible. Brian DeBrincat from Doyle Annapolis was very thorough and very personable. He not only knew Spike but gave us the stories on several of the Toronto sailmakers as well. Turns out he used to work in Toronto.

Next day a young lad from Chesapeake Rigging came on board to measure Meredith for some new rigging. We are holding off on this for a week or two as I want some prices from Omar the Sailmaker (first cousin of Omar the Tentmaker) in Beaufort.

Finally we installed the new LED replacement bulbs which we purchased: three for the salon and two for the nav lights. Meredith now has six inside light fixtures powering LED bulbs in addition to the anchor light and the nav lights. Last night we sat with the anchor light on, two salon lights and the Hella fan on high. Total power draw was .7 of an amp. It is just so much cheaper to conserve power than it is to generate more.

Our current rain halted the last job of replacing the stainless bolts holding the stanchions and granny bars in place.

Repair operations were limited to half days to allow us to attend the boat show, survey the marine stores and buy booze and food. Evenings were reserved for visitation and drinking.

That is it for the Honey Dew lists on Meredith for the past week. It is our view that cruising is not much of a sedentary life and it opens a number of opportunities to learn new things.

Connie says I am not allowed to write about her casabas.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blessed are the Poor

It is certainly a good thing we needed absolutely nothing for our Cabo Rico sailboat, Meredith, when we went to the boatshow.

Never before have so few bought so much for such little good reason.

Who knew there were that many essential products whose existence had been denied me. WHo could have predicted the deep abiding need that would fill this humble consumer on learning of all the wonderful things he did not yet have for his boat. Oh, progress. It took only minutes to go from total ignorance to "I have to have one of those. ... And a spare".

As a result my wife's life has been greatly improved.

We have 5, count 'em 5, new LED light bulbs to further cut our consumption of electricity. The Budget Committee has always been nervous about our consumption of current and she watches the battery monitor with a devotion that approaches obsession. These LEDs were so inexpensive it would have been a crime against the environment to pass them up. And I am a big supporter of the environment.

What a great idea it was when I saw the Garhauer display showing how to rerig the genoa cars and simplify the rigging of our sheets. And so reasonably priced. Guaranteed to save the Budget Committee hours of gruelling work grinding away at sheet winches and rereeving genoa blocks. My deep and abiding love for my wife compelled me to purchase these before she finished looking at new shoes.

That same Garhauer booth offered clever little blocks that affixed to the stanchions and eased the friction of pulling in the the furling line. Again, labour saving devices bought to reduce the burden imposed on my wife. Bought while she was not looking and Bill Garhauer, wise to the game, slipped them in the bag and cleverly handed it to her. Thanks again Bill.

In the same vein the new furling system was intended only to save her backbreaking labour of furling and unfurling our huge new Genoa.

Didn't I mention the huge new Genoa. You was necessary. My dear wife hates to heel. It makes her uncomfortable. Our existing Genoa is so old and worn that it no longer drives the boat forward, it merely pushes the boat over and adds tons of helm issues.

To enhance the comfort level of my beloved I placed a sort of firm order for a new genoa. Admittedly the order was placed very quickly before Connie could break away from that very nice lady whom we met last year at the boat show. But you understand, it was done for her own good.

My whole day at the show was been spent in a desperate attempt to improve the life of my mate. Does she appreciate any of it?

She is absolutely thrilled about saving power and happy that her grinding of sheet winches and furling of sails will now be easier.

If it never occurs to her that I could do all that work instead of her it is worth whatever it costs.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What is it about the Boat Show?

Annapolis MD

A certain instability descends upon the state capital of Maryland every year during Canadian Thanksgiving. It is called the Annapolis Boat Show.

For those of us who have not come here to buy anything in particular this is a noholds barred full frontal attack on the sailing community by the forces of commercial darkness.

No boat you own is sufficiently new or well appointed or mechanized. None. Not even the boat you bought from the same dealer at the boat show just last year. You must modernize, update, refit. You must spend money.

A caste system has developed to maintain order and sort the wheat from the chaff, the serious from the tire kickers, the buyers from the lookers. Too many lookers are wasting the time of honest sales staff. So the show starts with VIP day.

To prevent this unnecessary slowing of the commercial lifeblood of Annapolis Day One of the Boat Show each year is designated VIP Day. In honour of the VIPs and to avoid said "better than other people because they have the dough" crowd being offended by the odiferous boating public the Ticket Prices for VIP day are raised to $35 a head. On less well healed days it requires only $17 to admit a single head no matter how dirty or louse ridden the bearer may find himself.

Surely it is only in North America where human beings stand sheeplike in line waiting to spend their money for the privilege of being released into a rat's maze to be forced to run a gauntlet of frenzied sellers of nauticrap. When one wonders will Walmart start charging admission?

Today we dinghied from our cozy little nest at the end of Back Creek to the 6th St. dinghy dock. Annapolis accommodates anchoring boaters by designating the end of each public street which runs to the water as a "public dock". It is cool.

You must walk from the 6th St. dinghy dock to downtown but this is only 1 mile or so. 6th Street divides Annapolis, severing from the main town a peninsula which extends from 6th St. east into the Back Creek. Like the famous tracks, the wrong side of which no one wished to find themselves, 6th Street is a denominator.

The peninsula, a turgid little member resembling a stunted Italy, contains 75% of the commercial sailing enterprise in Annapolis, maybe the world. Doyle and North sail yards, Weems and Plath, Annapolis School of Seamanship, Nordhaven Yachts, Nordic Tug, American Tug dealers, half a dozen other sailboat dealers, eight or nine dinghy reps. If you cannot find it on the peninsula you can only pray it exists on the South side of Back Creek which possesses the remaining 25% of everything.

There is nothing relating to sailing that you cannot get here. All at $100 US an hour for labour plus tax. Half hour minimum if you please "and I can't be sure how long I will need so maybe you should take a slip at the Marina so I can access your boat easily. It shouldn't take too long but it might be several days".

An engine manual for my misbehaving Tohatsu outboard engine was to be in the shop by today so we stopped by to pick it up. Entering the shop the sole representative of the business, a clerk, looks up from his desk and sneers "I remember you. You are the guy who thinks he can fix his own outboard". A derisive laugh erupted from his humourless face as he looked back down at his work.

The delight of our day was a stop at the Sailrite store. Staffed by a heavy set septuagenarian and his blue haired wife this store is crammed with all the stuff you need to sew anything you could imagine. Need a new boat cover for winter? I am sure Sailrite has a set of plans for it - just give them the make, model and year.

Sunbrella cloth was $14.50 a yard and we bought a yard to make some repairs to our sailcover and to try to fix the triple play of boneheaded mistakes made by the clowns at Genco in Toronto who charged us a fortune to badly design and haphazardly execute sailcovers, dodger and bimini.

Who would have thought that a mainsail cover should have an aperture of sufficient circumference to actually encompass the mast? Not Genco. Measuring the foot of the mainsail to be 13 feet in length this cabal of urban intelligence reasoned that the mainsail cover should be only 11 feet long. "Is this a problem?" wondered Nat Jr. aloud when we questioned him on it while he was on our boat. His offered fixes never appeared.

Thank God for Sailrite. The guy in the store gave us instructions, hints, tips and then tried to sell us a sewing machine. For Christmas I want one.

After that it was off to the Black Dog Store for a gift for one of our precious new Granddogs and then to the Ram's Head for lunch.

Detouring from our leisurely afterlunch stroll back to the dinghy dock we scouted Fawcett's Marine store to re examine our choices for varnish for Meredith's brightwork. While there we were accosted by the North American VP of Sales for Hella Marine and treated to a 30 minute private dissertation on the new LED lights. We also discussed the art of display construction as this poor guy had to build all the Hella display units himself - from scratch. A good time was had by all let me assure you.

Escaping slowly from Fawcett's we returned along 6th St., crossed the bridge over Spa Creek and stopped at Fleetfeet to buy some new Ecco sandals.

At the dinghy dock low tide had set in with a vengence. Many dinghies were on the hard, well on the muck at any rate. Fortunately we always use a long painter at a dinghy dock. If everyone did so then all the dinghies could tie up and be pushed off with no crowding. Always there seems to be a bunch of selfish jerks who insist on claiming 4 feet of dock for themselves only. Very American the philosophy seems to be "I got mine, Screw You".

If everyone used a 20 foot painter then all the dinghies would happily bob about in the creek until pulled in by their owners. No jostling or pushing or struggle to get close to the dock to tie up or load or unload. However today the selfish little bastards got theirs in spades. Tied up nice and close to the dock they were a foot out of the water and no one, absolutely no one could be desperate enough to set foot in the indescribable cesspot that constitutes the bottom of Back Creek. The selfish dorks had to wait hours before they would be able to launch today.

Happily we walked across the stinking ooze of Back Creek on a carpet of landlocked dinghies, climbed in our little Walker Bay and sputtered and spit our way back to Meredith.

I really have to read that engine manual.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Same Old Same Old

No posts for a bit. Too boring to write about our lives are on hold.

At the moment we are anchored in Annapolis, anchored stern to in a little cul de sac at the back of Back Creek. Today we sit anchor watch while Meredith is strafed broadside by 30 knot winds. Ten seconds ago the anemometer gave us 29.8 knots off the starboard beam.

We stay busy watching late arrivals to the boat show motor up the river looking for a protected anchorage at this late date. There are none.

The Chesapeake has been dull. Other than today winds have been fair, anchorages safe. This is sort of like sailing Lake Huron without the North Channel or Georgian Bay.

The Chesapeake is big puddle with a bunch of rocks, some disguised as islands, in the middle just to screw you up. To sail North you must go South and vice versa. There are few interesting anchorages. Many dull boring safe ones reached after an hours long travail up some switchback river or another. Safe. Dull. Not worth the effort.

Every anchorage has a commercial district attached to it so those who revel in the consumer wasteland of downtown Bayfield Ontario would revel here. Lots of pretty paint and gingerbread on stores selling overpriced nic nacs. Lots of overpriced meals disguising cheap seafood in some heavy white sauce or another.

Sailing has been undemanding. Steady 25 knot winds, +/- 5 knots, off the stern quarter challenge neither rig nor our skill set. Locals do not sail the Bay in July or August as it is too hot and winds are too light.

The highlights of our trip have been on the personal side not in travelogue. The Cobb Island crew of Pierre, Jim, Joan and Horhay (Georges) gave us an unbelievable welcome and followup. Bill Breaux and Kim at Oxford MD became fast friends fast. Good times have been had with truly good people.

There is just not much to write about save personal observations not of a sailing nature.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Log Sept 15

Sept 15, Pocomoke City, MD

Guardian Angel

We returned to Pocomoke City from seeing our son, Jake, off on his life's first solo adventure. The drive back was an overnighter as we waited with Jake at the airport in London until he checked in for his 7:30p.m. deptarture. It was only then that we left London to resume our life interrupted.

8 a.m. the next morning saw us in Pocomoke City and still vaguely conscious. We hit the berth and slept until 6. Awakened by hunger we dressed and walked to the Cafe Milano for a New York style Neapolitan pizza made by the local Mexicans. You gotta love this place.

On the return waddle to Meredith we were approached at a run by one of the local liveaboards on the Pocomoke City dock who, breathless, informed us that he watched Meredith for us while we were gone and decided she was tied too loosely for his liking so he snugged up the lines for us and he hoped everything was ok. Everything was fine we assured him and we very much appreciated his help in protecting our boat. Would he join us for a drink? The man actually blushed.

Meredith's guardian angel hemmed and hawed and stared at the ground mumbling to himself. Finally he decided that no he was pretty busy tonight working on his boat so he would have to refuse.

His boat was an unsightly and decrepit old Morgan with peeling paint, chewed up brightwork and sails that had not been covered for at least a decade. On the poop deck however the man had begun a garden growing herbs and vegetables and it was this he must work on he informed us.

We spent some time discussing the problems of growing vegetables in a salt water environment and the proper means of controlling aphids and blight. Then this gentle soul, so eager to help us in our absence, took his leave and climbed quickly and silently into the maw of his Morgan.

We begin to suspect John Steinbeck travelled the Chesapeake collecting personalities for his novels.