Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some pictures that have not been previously posted.

Spinnaker Flying for the 1st Time

Sunset Leaving Key West
Our run down to Key West from Ft. Lauderdale was memorable for a few reasons.  We flew the chute for the first time on the trip and it was a thing of beauty.  The set went smoothly and the drop was nice for the skipper since the sail did not touch the water.  For those of you with interest, it was set with both sheets and guys on both clews.  We did not jibe the spinnaker so perhaps the effort was wasted. 

Richard getting ready to set the chute
Also on the way down to the Keys, we were 'approached' by the US Border Patrol and Homeland Security team on the water.  A speedboat manned by 4 armed officers came up behind us on the port side.  I was in the galley frying some onions to eat with the steaks we were about to put on the grill.  Richard called me up and I was asked "Where are you headed?"  Key West, I replied.  "Where are you coming from?"  Bear, Delaware, I replied.  This brought some oohs and aahs from the crew on the speedboat.  "What was your last port of call?  Ft. Lauderdale, I responded.  With all of the answers satisfactorily answered, he said "dinner smells great" and they were off.

Key West Limo Ride
Night life in Key West consisted of retracing the steps of Ernest Hemmingway and Jimmy Buffet.  We were in Margaritaville and we made sure that Key West lived up to its name.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A note from Key West

When we were in Key West, there was a neighbor on the dock, Scotty.  He was a hairdresser living on a sailboat at the marina living his dream.  He was king of Karaoke in Sarasota, he said.  Very friendly and glad to meet us.  Richard was headed off to get some beer and Scotty insisted that he take his cooler.  Then we couldn't return it.  It was a permanent gift.  We wanted to pitch it, but Richard made it into a keepsake that will live with us forever.  Note dates, destinations and the route traveled. 

Back in Punta Gorda

We got into Punta Gorda last night at 8:30 PM.  So much for having an easy day back.  We left Ft. Myers at 8:30 and I decided that it would be more fun to be in the Gulf that in the ICW for the remainder of the trip.  As a result, we had to go south for over an hour to clear Sanibel Island.  It was past noon when we got back the same lattitude that we started the morning at.  Then we had nice weather and a great sail up to Boca Grande.  We didn't pass through the inlet until 4:30 PM and right at that point it was mile 1500 on the trip odometer.

I will collect all of the pictures and post them over the course of the weekend.
Playmobil finally at home in Punta Gorda

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ft. Myers

We stopped in Marco Island this morning I decided that Marco to PGI was too much of a push. We decided to make for Ft Myers. We are in Ft. Myers now. Tomorrow to PGI.

Marco Island

We left Key West yesterday but made a wrong turn when trying to find the channel North. This cost us a few hours but we cleared the northernmost portion of the Channel around 5 PM. 13 hours later we are about an hour from the inlet to Marco Island. We will stay here for a day before the final run to Punta Gorda tomorrow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Key West

We have been in Key West since early Friday morning. We have been enjoying the warm weather and today went snorkeling off of Sand Key. Nice fish, but not much in the way of coral. A bit disappointing. I need to post pictures. I am sorry that haven't gotten around to it.

Tori has a video of about 5 dolphins playing and surfing off of our bow wave. She doesn't have a cable to download to my computer so we are thinking that she will download to u-tube and post the link on the blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Onto the Keys

We left Lauderdale last night at 5 PM and sailed down the Florida coast. As the sun set we could see the tall buildings with their lights on, beautifully backlit by the glow in the western sky. We maintained a distance of about a mile off shore and cruised on a beam reach doing between 4 and 5 knots over ground. We have had a 1 or 2 knot current against us for the past 300 miles.

I was a beautiful night to be on a sailboat. We marveled as we past Ft. Lauderdale, then Hollywood and finally Miami.

We are now off of Rattlesnake Key as we work our way down to the Conch Republic. The wind is almost directly behind us and we are getting ready to try to fly the spinnaker.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Journey Continues

Today was a down day for much of it. We each had our first full nights sleep in 5 days. We has to count to se how log we had been on the water. 5 days and 4 nights. 3 hours on and 3 hours off with only stops for fuel.

We got into the Lauderdale Yacht Club yesterday at dusk. We talked about rating club facilities. It looks great but the showers reminded me of summer camp. They became scaldingly hot when someone flushed. Didn't someone figure out the solution to this problem a long time ago. Nevertheless, I took 3 showers when there.

Dinner last night was at Chuck's with friends from Nova Scotia, Peter and Pam McNaughton. It was nice seeing them and Peter was kind enough to drive me to the grouchy store for some additional provisions.

While I shopped,swam at the yacht club pool, washed the deck of the boat and waited for the jib, Richard's girlfriend Tori joined us as additional crew for the remainder of the trip. Now we will each have 4 hours rest between shifts.

North did a terrific job for us. Not only did the webbing for clew rip but some of the glued seams started to open on the sail. Our sail technician, Alexi, said that is was the result of moisture. North re-stitched every panel, repaired the head and clew and replaced the sun shield with Sunbrella fabric that matches the dodger. Did I mention that they picked up and delivered as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Destination Ft. Lauderdale

We are just about in Ft. Lauderdale. A few more hours and we should make it. What a horrible night last night was. Winds on our nose, no jib and heavy seas. We pounded in the ocean from the time we left Ft. Pierce at 7 PM until about 6:30 this morning. Then the wind changed direction to be more from the west and it was more comfortable.

We had phoned ahead to North Sails in Lauderdale yesterday to see if they could repair the jib on an expedited basis. They were going to pick up the sail from us at Lauderdale Yacht Club this morning. We won't get the now until after 5 but they are being great and will pick it up after 5 tonight. Their customer service is great.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unscheduled stop

We are making an unscheduled fuel stop in Ft. Pierce. We need to do this because the clew of the jib tore out. We have called forward to North Sails in Ft. Lauderdale and they will repair it quickly for us. They said they can pick it up at the Lauderdale Yacht Club for us. Great service from North if the pull through.

We will head right out, hopefully by 7 PM to head onto Lauderdale.

Cell service has been spotty but should now be better as we are staying closer to shore.


Long nights taken in 3 hour increments.  You don't really see much of your sailing partner.  Perhaps 20 minutes between each watch.  After that you are alone for the next 2 hours and 40 minutes.  There is not much to do do in the evening when you are on watch and you are motoring, which we had to do last night since the winds were light and directly behind us.  

The  auto-pilot does a very good job when motoring.  It is also very useful on many wind angles.  It works least well with the wind from behind and following seas.  So on watch you need to keep a lookout for other ships.  The AIS system does a good job at identify and alerting you to most vessels however many pleasure craft and many fishing boats do not carry it. Attention is required.

We are looking forward to some wind on a good angle today so that we can make the run to Ft. Lauderdale under sail.

We are seeing some clouds for the first time today.  Not the clear blue skies that we have been accustomed to.  Yesterday was the first day in shorts and t-shirts and I am looking forward to much more cof that. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

St Augustine

What a push. From Myrtle Beach to St. Augustine FL. Two days and two nights on the water.

We went outside into the ocean after we found that conditions would be gentle. We sailed for the 1st day and half bur last night we motored since the wind fell done into single digits and we could only make about 3 knots under sail alone. With the engine and jib we made between 6 and 8 knots.

We have filled with fuel and are about to had for Ft. Lauderdale. We will need at least one more stop, perhaps around Vape Canaveral (What happened? Did JFK get downgraded).

We are about to push off. I will post pictures later.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Myrtle Beach

We couldn't go outside into the ocean today, because the weather was expected to be fairly extreme.  It was beautiful on the ICW.   It was warm, sunny and very pleasant.  It was warm enough that I went barefoot on the boat all day.  At one point I took off my shirt to get some sun.  That however, did not last long.

We had to wait on a couple of occasions for bridges to open and once for a tug boat with a 400 foot tow to pass by.

We got into the area of Myrtle Beach and I don't have my golf clubs.  That's fine, I'd rather sail than golf anytime.  We will make an early start tomorrow and see how far we get, keeping an eye on offshore conditions.  Tonight we are located here.

I wanted to post some pictures from the last couple of days.  One is Richard up in the mast,  then there is the lunch Richard made, hotdogs wrapped in Pepperage Farm Crescent Roll Dough.  Lastly is the picture of the swing bridge that we had to pass through at dusk.

Staying Inside

For those of you who are watching offshore conditions, you can be sure that Richard and I are doing so as well. We saw that offshore to expect winds to 30 knots and wave heights up to 24 feet. We decided to stay in the protected waters of the ICW today. More later.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Playmobil's first Atlantic Romp

We left Beaufort, which is right by Cape Lookout for Wrightsville Beach, which is right above Cape Fear at 4:30 AM.  We cleared the harbor and shipping channel at around 5:30 and raised the sails.  We got to experience a beautiful sunrise over the ocean with no sound but that of the wind and the waves. 

We took one hour watches so that we could each catch up on the sleep we missed the night before.  We were heading on a course of 250 degrees magnetic to our destination some 60 miles away.   The closer we got to our destination, the further we got from land, at least until the end part of our trip.  Each hour we carefully plotted our latitude and longitude in the ships log as we read it off of our GPS.  The winds were heaviest in the morning and they were coming directly over our starboard beam.  A fast point of sail that had us traveling at between 7 and 9 knots all morning.  We did see up to 9.5 at one point.  The winds were fairly steady at 14 to 16 knots.  The gusts started to become stronger and we started to see high 19's.  At that point, I thought it best to put the 1st reef in the main.  Immediately thereafter, the winds dropped but we didn't shake the reef until wind speeds fell under 10 and our boat speed fell under 6.

We came out of the Atlantic at Wrightsville Beach and the inlet had very strong 2 knot currents.  We passed back into the ICW proper and motor sailed to Carolina Beach where we are staying the night.  We will stay until about 11 AM tomorrow to catch the falling tide out of the Cape Fear River.  Our plan is to sail on until we reach Charleston SC.  We think it will take us at least 15 hours ( is is 90 miles) and plan on getting to Charleston early Friday morning.   An earlier start would have us arrive in the dark and we don't want to negotiate the harbor at that time.

Our position for those you like to look things up click here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beaufort - Gateway to the Atlantic

This morning was a day of work on the boat to prepare it for our first trip into the ocean.   Yesterday, when putting away the mainsail, one of the lines on the 'Dutchman' system which helps flake the sail broke.  Upon examination all of the other dutchman lines were about to go also.  Richard figured the best thing to do was to put 'lazy jacks' on the boat.  We stopped at West Marine and pickup some supplies.

First the jib came down to repair some of the sun protection panels that were flapping in the breeze.  Then Richard put on his harness and I hoisted him to the top of the 55' mast.  Up top, he removed the 'Dutchman' system and lubricated the track from top to bottom.  He also checked all of the cotter pins and connections all the way down the mast.  He also rigged the lazy jack system.  He is very resourceful.  I hope it works as advertised since he said it was the first one he has done.

We installed 'jack lines' on both sides of the boat to enable us to remain 'clipped on' wherever we are on the boat.  We checked out the emergency tiller to see that it was working in case we needed it.  We were done by noon and pushed off to Beaufort by 12:45.

As we approached Beaufort, coming down Adams Creek, we started noticing a difference in the air and the water.  The air started to smell like salt, like the ocean.  There were dozens of dolphins in the water.  There must have been lots of fish and we were seeing 3 or more at a time come up and out of the water.  Really cool.

We tied up our boat at the Stillwater Restaurant where they told us we could tie up while we ate our meal.  We told them our plan to leave in the early morning and they said that was fine. A little before 10 PM we were told we had to leave and after telling the person there about the previous discussions, he didn't want to hear about it and demanded a dockage fee.   I explained that we could have paid a dockage fee anywhere and no eat at their restaurant.  I headed off to bed in the boat.  About 1/2 later, I found they had called the police and were told we were trespassing and had to leave the dock.  We headed off 500 ft into the achorage agear and slept a little before our heading of for the Carolina Beach Inlet just above Cape Fear.  We should be there before dark on Wednesday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Into Oriental a Restocking Place

We sailed from Belhaven to Oriental, NC today.  It was leisurely and we sat happily doing 3 knots while we barbequed some hotdogs for lunch.  There were moments when we drifted, moments going fast and moments motoring upwind.  We only traveled about 35 miles so it was easy and we arrived early in the afternoon to River Dunes Yacht Club.

Where we stayed in Belhaven

River Dunes Yacht Club
This place is a country club for boaters.  They dug a deep marina in a place that is really georgeous.  They are trying to make a go of it selling building lots for high end homes.  Only a few are built and I am afraid that the bank may really own this place.  They provided a car for us to go to town and get provisions and we restocked on food and picked up some provisions for out offshore leg.  Tonight we enjoyed the hot tub and the showers at the gym facility.  We passed on the wine and cheese tasting in favor of some barbequed NY Strips and salad prepared on the boat.

While we were out provisioning, we stopped at Inner Banks Sails & Canvas.  The proprietors were very knowledgable about the things were were looking for and how best to rig them.  Richard will rig jack lines tomorrow that will run the length of the boat.  This will give us something to clip our harnesses onto.  When you are clipped to the boat, a stumble will not have dire consequences. 

We will make a short sail to Beaufort, NC tomorrow (pronounces BO-fert) and will use that as a jumping off point for an ocean sail to Wrightsville Beach NC,  just above Cape Fear. 

A link to our locations is here.  Click here.  This is a different link than before and might be easier for some to look at.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From Coinjock, NC to Belhaven, NC

At the helm
 We got out of Coinjock around 8:30 this morning.  The light was nice and I had a chance to grab this one shot of the restaurant where we had eaten the previous morning.

We motored for about an hours until we reached the Albemarle Sound.  The wind was picking up and we just put out the jib and turned off the motor.  The wind was from the NW and we were heading South with following seas.  The boat took off and was fast downwind.  The wind was generally blowing between 18 and 24 knots and we saw gusts to 26.  In general we were doing in excess of 7 knots the whole time and at one point we saw 10.4 knots of the knot meter.  We were surfing down the waves and having a ball.

There was only one bridge that needed to open for us today.  It was on the Alligator River and it was a swing bridge and the operator of the bridge was having a difficult time today because of the winds.

After we got out of main part of the Alligator River, we headed down this channel that has been dug.  We did did this late in the day as we were trying to make Belhaven, so we could get a marina with an electric hookup.  The temps are supposed to be near freezing tonight and we wanted heat.  However, the sun set and 5:30 and we still had nearly 12 miles to go.  We put on the running, navigation, masthead and steaming lights and went down the canal.  We only saw two other boats in there so traffic was not a problem and it is as straight as a ruler so navigation was simple.

When we got out of the channel and headed into the marina at night, the 2,000,000 candlepower light I purchased before the trip came in handy to light up the channel markers at a distance of a quarter of a mile.  We put steaks purchased before leaving on the BBQ and enjoyed that before turning in.

We hope for an early start tomorrow to possibly make it to Beaufort.

Here is a link that will show our position.    Click here.  I will try to post this on a regular basis.

From Norfolk to Coinjock

The trip out of Norfolk was uneventful.  We couldn't get fuel at the yacht club because we left before the pumps opened.  We motored for about an hour through downtown Norfolk and found a marina that sold fuel.  We started to encounter the first of the bridges that have to open so we can get through.  The first one opens when you call them, but after that it is on the hour and 1/2 hour.  We lost about an hour overall during the day waiting for the locks and bridges.  You can see the picture of Playmobil tied up in the lock as the water level changes.

After the last bridge we made time to Coinjock, NC where we spent the night.

We plan a fairly early departure as the clocks have changed and it will get dark early.

Barge on the Intercoastal Waterway

Friday, November 5, 2010

Deltaville to Norfolk VA

We got up today and felt that it had great promise.  We had spent the night in a lovely place and it only seemed nicer when it wasn't raining.  Our stuff had started to dry out and we were hopeful for a nice sail to Norfolk.  There were these high soft clouds in the sky that said "its going to be a good one."
We motored just long enough to clear the harbor where the Yacht Club was and then raised to sails.  We did shifts as we did the prior day because it was still quite cool.  Here is a picture of Richard at the helm.  Notice the gloves, but he is perched on the rail to get all of the warming rays from the sun that he can get.

We had a great sail for the better part of 6 hours.  We had winds on our  starboard beam of between 8 and  14 knots.  At one point Richard announced that we had reached 7.82 knots of boat speed.  We were quite impressed with how fast the boat is.  We sailed until we reached Norfork Harbor which is one of the busiest and commercial and military harbors in the world.  We saw huge loading and and unloading facilities and we counted upwards of 20 naval ship in port at the naval base, and that doesn't include the little patrol boats that keep you from getting too close.

US Aircraft Carrier
Port Facilities

When you are approaching Norfolk, all of the traffic is monitored because of security concerns.  We had at least 3 or 4 helicopters fly right over the top of us.  Probably no more than 500 feet above us.  We were sure that they had our name and course plotted into a supercomputer somewhere and were watching our every move.

We finally got through all of the busy commerical and military traffic and found our way to the Norfolk Yacht and Counry Club.  We were welcomed to enjoy their 50,000 square foot clubhouse.  Not shown here is the facility that has the locker rooms, squash courts, gym and indoor pool.  I found it necessary to take in a sauna, a steam and a shower before grabbing a burger in the grill room.  The members here were very accomodating as one of them offered the use of his truck in case we needed to go to the store for anything.  I met a fellow MIT graduate who graduated in '65 with a degree in Naval Architecture (Course 13) in the grill and had a very nice chat.

The push to Deltaville

Today we pushed. Motor sailing all the way. A favorable tide and breeze helped us achieve over 8 knots for much of the time. It was however in conditions that were stinky. A light to moderate rain fell all day and we were wet. Richard and i took one hour watches so that the other could have an hour to pull off the wet gear and dry out, make a pot of coffee or just relax. It worked out well.

The channel into Deltaville is very narrow, shallow and twisty. Richard was on the bow directing me on the wheel. Playmobil draws 4 feet 8 inches. I was watching the depth gauge go from 9 feet to 7 feet to 5 feet and then to 4.8 feet. Then it went to 4.3 feet and I started to ask Richard about it's accuracy. Then we touched the sandy bottom. We easily backed off and got into this beautiful spot with no further incident.

All of the boats at the Fishing Bay Yacht Club (a wonderful venue with three club houses, great showers and a kitchen) were backed into their slips. Richard suggested that I do the same. Lets's just say that I am glad that ther were no members on the veranda watching my docking skills!

Still in our wet gear we walked off of the dock when a member pulled up and welcomed us. He offered us a lift but we declined as we needed to change. We walked about a mile and a half to the Galley Rest. The dinner was ok and I felt that I fit right in because I had changed into my plaid flannel shirt. The accents have changed. We are now in the south. The southern hospitality was wonderful and the restaurant owner gave us a lift back to the yacht club.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A day of light rain

Just a short note. The rain was supposed to last all day but we got up and it was pretty light so we decided to try and make it to Deltaville or Gywnn Island. Richard and I are taking watches so that we can dry out for a while. My next watch starts in 5 minutes.

I did find that there is a drip where the mast goes through the deck. I will need to get a collar to go around the mast to stop this.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sail to the Solomons

We left Annapolis around 8:30 after a stop at the fuel dock. We motored out into the Chesapeake and around 10 AM raised the sails. I was please to see us doing 6.7 knots in 13 knots of wind. We sailed hard on the wind for most of the day with winds between 10 and 15 knots gusting to 17. We had only 44 miles to go to get to the Solomon's but we had to tack back and forth and around 3 PM we fired up the Yanmar diesel and motor sailed the rest of the way in.

A dark & stormy is going down smoothly as I write this post and shortly we will explore what Solomon's has to offer. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy so unless we get favorable winds, we might spend another day here. We still have two days of sailing before we reach Norfolk.

A Night in Annapolis

After tidying up the boat, we decided to grab some local fare.

A block from the marina was the Boatyard Bar and Grill. They advertised outside on a sign that their crabcakes were full of 'killer' not 'filler'. I had the crab cakes and some amazing fresh oysters. Great dinner.

As we were finishing we notice that there was a woman passing out T-shirts. They were for Flying Dog beer. It turns out that Leslie was dating the friend of one of the owners of Flying Dog. We suggested that they could be a sponsor of Flying Dog for the trip to Punta Gorda. It turns out that they only had beer on tap that evening. We got a couple pints, two T-shirts and a flag to fly on the boat. Thank you Flying Dog.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First Day Done

The first thing Richard said when he went onto the deck is "It's like a skating rink out here".  There was a hard frost on the decks and on the docks.  I stepped onto the dock, slid across it and almost went into the water on the other side.

Nonetheless, we had a successful 1st day.  We left our slip at Summit North Marina at 8:30 and headed out into the canal.  I ran the engine gradually up to 2800 rpm to see how it ran.  The next thing we new we were doing 8.8 knots.  I thought I was in a speedboat.  You have to keep pay attention at that speed. 

It took an hour for us to clear the Chesapeake and Delaware canal. We motored throughout the rivers that feed the Chesapeake and encountered some large barges and dredges along the way, keeping well clear.

Once in the Chesapeake we found very light winds, never exceeding 6 knots and we continued motoring the rest of the day.  By 1:30 we were at the entrance to Baltimore harbor. 

We kept discussing how far we would go today but in the end decided that we wouldn't push it and we tied up at the Annapolis Yacht Club.

Tomorrow morning we will get fuel and head off for an early start.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Last minute prep

Today was a day that I spent in cars. First to pick a few more personal items needed. A stop a West Marine for new flares as the existing ones were expired, a barbecue grill and a waterproof flashlight for the ditch bag. After dropping stuff off at the boat I drove to Philadelphia Intl Airport to pick up Richard. We returned to the boat to stow the new stuff away and discuss what needed to be done that afternoon.

I then drove to Baltimore Washington Airport to return the rental car. Scott, met me at the car drop off and drove me back to the boat. Scott joined Richard and I for an inaugural dark & stormy, approved of the boat and then he headed off.

We have a few things to do tomorrow before we try to make the 9:50 current in the canal. We have to replace 4 slugs on the mainsail and clean and flush the water tanks before departure. While I was returning the car Richard installed the grill and life sling son the back rails and checked out the GPS and VHF.

The weather looks good for the next few days and we push off in 12 hours.