Heading For Home…

We spent Saturday afternoon on shore where Windsor found a playmate, a Golden Doodle who looked like Ellie, and they played hard for about an hour. We took a short walk before showering, watching a few shows and going to bed. It was chilly and numerous quick showers pelted us, so cuddling up and watching some TV was about all we could do. Sunday we did laundry after watching a few sermons, then we walked the park and talked to a few people on shore before walking to the end of the canal where it dumped in to the Niagara River. Then we headed back to the boat where we had dinner and watched some TV.

Monday morning after I had finished work, we walked over to the Carousel Museum and spent a wonderful few hours reliving our childhood and admiring the art of carousel making before coming home and having lunch. Then we cast off and motored out of the Erie Canal into the Niagara River. The current was fairly strong, but we made steady progress up to the Black Rock lock. The lock is at the entrance to the Black Rock canal that runs parallel to the river, but keeps you out of the current which increases quickly from 1 to 2 knots down by the islands to 5 knots or more at the entrance to the Niagara River. We motored up through the canal, underOn the wall at Tonawanda a few bridges and then into the downtown area near Veterans Park where we looked around and then headed to our chosen anchorage which was in the old salt canal a short distance away. We tied up to a concrete wall which was in a sad state of disrepair, but in decent enough condition that we could safely tie up and spend a few days. Thank goodness for LARGE fenders!

The area was very sheltered; there was a brick wall to the West that protected it from Lake Erie, and to the South, the North and the East were the walls of the inlet. The North wall had been converted to a park; there were some wind decorations and other things that we decided to explore later but it looked like it was going to storm so we stayed put and watched Netflix before turning in.

We had called the marina and scheduled our mast to go up on Thursday, but Tuesday we called as the weather was nice and they said they would squeeze us in. We motored over at 10 and spent the next few hours getting the mast up. Once it was stable, we motored back to the wall and spent the afternoon tightening the rigging and getting the sails put on. We had an issue with the mainsail and one of the dutchman lines broke, so I had to fix that. Once we got the mainsail squared away we called it a day, went into shore, took Windsor to the beach and walked around the park. It was a very nicely done area, lots of wildflowers and butterflies, a few slides for small kids and a nice walking path. It was a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday we headed in to shore after I finished with work, and we walked down to the bike ferry, a pontoon boat that goes back and forth from Naval Park to Ferry Park, to allow people to get over to see the wildlife refuge and Wilkeson Point Park where we were tied up. It was only $1 per person each way, so we went over and because we had Windsor, we just explored the outside of the museum where all the memorials are located. They had monuments to everything, Marines, Army, Polish soldiers, Hispanic soldiers, even Gold Star families! It made for a nice walk and once done, we headed down the shoreline to Swannies for some drinks and chicken wings which were very good. We walked back another way searching for ice cream which we found eventually, hidden behind Hatch, a small restaurant complex at the mouth of the Buffalo river.

We enjoyed some good chocolate ice cream before walking to the front to Hatch where there was a small bar. We got a glass of wine and watched the sailboats head out and race on Wednesday evening. There were at least 50! It was a wonderful sight and there was a good wind to boot. We headed home on the ferry and met a couple on a Tartan 37, headed down South to Florida. We had a nice discussion with them and while walking, got to see a doe and her fawn in the nature preserve. They put on a little show for us posing for the camera, they were both so beautiful; God is truly a Great Creator.

Once back on board, Melanie made an Irish coffee for us and we watched the sun set before heading in to bed. Thursday we went to the Naval Museum and walked around the indoor and outdoor exhibits before coming back to the boat to take Windsor for a walk. There was an interesting array of exhibits, including a WWII destroyer and submarine, and a Vietnam era destroyer. We were beat after climbing up and down all the ladders in the ships, moving between floors to see the exhibits.

After work on Friday we walked to the grocery store for supplies, and then took an Uber back to the boat to pack everything away before heading to shore for one last drink at the park and to take Windsor for a walk. Saturday morning after breakfast we headed into the marina, filled up with water, bought some ice and then sailed out into the lake.

The wind was a good 15 to 20 knots, and after hoisting the sails, we sailed out of the harbor on starboard tack, perpendicular to our intended course so we made no progress until we tacked an hour or so later and started Westward. The sailing was good; there was a 2 foot chop with the occasional three to four foot wave, but we made steady progress with glorious sunshine and good winds. A great way to end a sailing adventure. We heard a report from a boat in Fairport on the radio that they had found a capsized aluminum runabout with at least one body floating in the water. The weather wasn’t that bad, but it was a sober reminder that nature takes no prisoners.

The wind dropped during the course of the day to 10 to 15, and by 5:30 pm we had sailed 30 miles with a mere 17 miles of progress toward our destination. It was going to be a looooong ride. After sunset, I took first watch and the wind dropped down to 10 to 12 knots. We were sailing along around 4 knots making good progress Westward. It was not too cold and the sky was clear so there was a beautiful display of stars. The stars were so thick it felt like the sail was slicing through them like a knife; the Milky Way was on display and looked like a line of a cloud across the sky it was so thick and clearly defined.

As we went further down the lake we passed a huge windmill farm on the Canadian side. All the windmills had red lights on top and they all flashed together, so there was about a 10 mile stretch of red lights turning on and off at exactly the same time, quite an unusual sight to see when you’re out in the middle of the lake. Around 1 am, an orange moon crept slowly up behind us out of the lake, quite ghostly looking, and it stayed orange until it was a good deal above the horizon. Melanie came up for her watch and I went back down for the night. By sunrise the next morning we were along the coast of Long Point close to the shoreline, so we tacked and headed back South towards the US shoreline. Our landfall was Erie Pennsylvania, and we sailed in close to shore before tacking away. The wind held up nicely through the morning and the afternoon and we were able to maintain an easy 5 knots. The wind switched later in the day more to the Southwest, which made our tacks across the lake a little less effective in gathering distance.

Around 2:30 p.m., the wind switched and abruptly dropped, leaving us with 2 to 3 ft waves and no wind to move us through them. Our boat speed went from 5 knots down to less than 2 in a matter of minutes and we were hobby horsing and bobbing around like a cork. We tried to get the boat going again, but the waves were too much and we were not able to get our speed back. We struggled with it for a while before finally giving in and turning on the engine and motoring. With the iron genny running, we were able to charge our batteries and make some good headway in a direction straight towards our objective. We were aiming for Kelleys Island, it was an anchorage we were familiar with and we knew that we could shower, do laundry and prepare for our return home there without too much effort. We motored until about 7pm along the shore and then the wind came up a bit giving us about a knot or so more of speed and some cooling relief from the heat, but not enough to turn the loud motor off and just sail alone.

We had an almost drama when Melanie went below to make some coffee and because the boat was heeling a bit, the flames from the burner started to partially come out of the burner’s volume control knob on the stove. I put the fire out with water, but then we could not turn the knob to close the burner control so we could open the top and put the cover back on. It took me a good half hour of sleuthing before I figured out how to do it, but that left us with only one working burner and another item on the to-do list for me to fix.

We decided that Melanie would take the first watch and I would do the late night watch. We decided to motor until I came on watch, and then we would turn off the motor and just sail so that Melanie could get some sleep. It was an exquisitely sunny day, the skies were clear but towards sunset it started to cloud up a little. The wind came up a little as well and boosted us towards our goal. Melanie went below and rustled up some dinner for us while we enjoyed our evening glass of wine and the beautiful air.

After sunset she took the first watch and I went below to sleep. With the motor running we were able to make between 5 and 6 knots. Around 1:30 Melanie turned off the motor and I came up for my watch. The winds were 15 to 20 and we were making good progress past Cleveland and out across the bight towards Kelleys Island. However the infamous Lake Erie chop reared its ugly head along with the wind. We started to hobby horse in the larger waves which slowed us considerably, so I turned off the auto pilot and tried to hand steer through it, but without any points of reference – no tell tails or horizon to see – it was difficult to sail a straight course. Our wind indicator was malfunctioning and its internal battery kept running down, so to use it I would have to turn it on to confirm a wind direction and then turn it off and manually steer to the appropriate compass heading.

It was frustrating and slow going during the course of the early morning as we headed west. Right around sunrise the wind suddenly increased quite dramatically from 15 knots up to 20 to 25 knots! I rolled up the staysail and laughed to myself; I had just finished listening to the weather forecast and it called for 5 to 10 knot winds in our area. As usual they were wrong. We were fighting a three to four ft chop which made life below very uncomfortable but we made good time as we continued slogging westward until we reached the eastern side of Point Pelee.

Then we tacked and headed South. Soon we were out of sight of land again, just water surrounding us, with the wind slowly switching to the southwest, turning our track from Huron towards Lorain. Our intention was to sail until we were able to make a tack for Pelee Island, but after bobbing around at under two knots for about 15 minutes I got impatient and we decided to turn on the iron genny.

What a difference it made! We were able to roll up the Yankee and carry the staysail and the mainsail and motor straight towards our destination at a healthy 4.5 knots. That changed our expected arrival time from 10pm to 5pm. As we motored on, the shore line of Pelee Island slowly came into view, followed by Middle Island and then the Kelleys Island shoreline and the all too familiar Perry’s monument on South Bass. We were approaching home. It was hazy and humid, so everything looked somewhat foggy, but unmistakenly familiar.

About 10 miles from Kelleys, the wind switched to the south east and we were able to turn off the motor and sail for a while, but of course as it always does, the wind pooped and so the last 5 miles we motor sailed into the anchorage at Kelleys. 2 miles before our anchorage the wind suddenly came up to 25! There were squalls and thunderstorms forecasted for the evening, so getting in was of premier importance.We scooted in to the anchorage, dropped the hook, lowered the dinghy and headed into shore so Windsor could get some land time. It had been almost 3 days since he had seen real grass.

Back home, anchored in front of the monument at Put-In-Bay

We anchored at 5:15 and we were safely at rest; 7480 Nautical miles. We left Buffalo with the odometer at 7235 and it was straight line trip of 190 miles; we had done a lot of tacking! After dropping the anchor we went in to shore to take Windsor for a walk and to go to the store next to the campground for some chocolate ice cream. They were out of it! We ended up walking into town on the other side of the island where we ate dinner and then found an ice cream store that had our favorite flavor; caveman chocolate. After a good does of ice cream we walked back, collected our shower things at the boat and went in to shore to take a shower. There were storms coming, and we hastily returned back to the boat after showering, making it just in time; the rain started pelting us just as we were closing up the hatch for the night. We had a huge thunderstorm and it rained for hours, but we didn’t care, we were in bed asleep.

Next morning we awoke to clouds and we could tell there was a little breeze because we could feel it behind the trees. We decided to pull our anchor and sail over to Put-in-Bay so that I could work. We hoisted the main, pulled up the anchor and sailed off towards the Bay. Once around the corner of Kelleys the wind increased to about 15 out of the Southwest. It was a nice flat sail; it was good to be back in home waters. We made short work of the eight miles to Put-in-Bay, and soon we were anchored in front of the monument in our old spot. After a few hours work, we headed to shore to do laundry. The clouds gave way to humid sunshine, and our cool spot on the boat became hot and uncomfortable when on the mainland. It took us a while to find the laundry, tucked away out of sight of all the tourism. We got all the laundry finished and while it was running we visited Wharfside and had a cup of coffee. We talked to Bob and Elena, two of the people we knew that worked there, then went to Hooligans for dinner and walked back to the boat.

I had forgotten a load in the laundry; I thought there were two loads and there were actually 3, so after coming back to the boat I had to head back to shore and dry that load before returning. We spent the next few days unwinding at Middle Bass and Put-In-Bay before heading home on Saturday. On the way we scattered Jezzie’s ashes into the lake and then motored in to the welcoming arms of family and friends at our home dock on Catawba Island. We came to our final stop at 7499 miles.

Our adventure was over, but the memories of this trip will last forever. Thank you to all those friends and family who prayed for our safety every day, especially in harrowing situations. Prayer DOES make a difference. We saw it with our own eyes; storms parting to allow us safe passage, God providing a way for our motor to be repaired when we thought we would have to sell the boat, protection from an hour of continuous lightning, His blessing were numerous. Thank you Lord for allowing us to safely take this awesome adventure and to make it home in one piece. Our Lord is truly a great God!


Upstate New York and the Erie Canal

The Hudson was choppy, rough and very busy. A few miles north of the city the traffic died down substantially and before long we were pretty much the only boat on the river. It was a nice, quiet, smooth journey with a good following current. At first the wind was at our back but by the time we got to the George Washington bridge the wind was dead on the nose. All we could do was motor with the staysail up but we made a good 6 or so knots up the river. The scenery was quite beautiful.

We passed under the Tappan Zee bridge which was under construction. The old steel girder bridge had been replaced with two suspension bridges, one for each lane of traffic. One bridge was finished, one was almost done and the old one was being dismantled. Just north of there in Ossining we anchored for the night. We woke next morning to a glorious cool clear morning, surrounded by hills to the East and cliffs to the West. After breakfast we took a walk into town for some groceries, stopped for a quick cup of coffee and then headed back to the boat to put our groceries away, then hauled anchor and hit the road. The wind was out of the North so once again we motor sailed with the staysail.

When we reached West Point, we decided to try to go ashore to take in a tour, but were told rather curtly on the radio that it is inaccessible by water. Disappointed, we ended up motoring up until the town of New Hamburg where we anchored in the river for the night. Next morning we caught the favorable current and motored up until we reached Kingston. We arrived around noon, dropped the anchor and waited for favorable current. The wind came up quite a bit, so we decided to sail even though there was a 2 knot current against us. It was slow going, we left Kingston during Peak counter-current, so even though we had a 15 knot following wind and our speed should have been close to 6 knots, we were moving between two and three. It was a pleasant sail, but the 8 mile trip to Saugerties took 4 hours! We eventually arrived and anchored in a very narrow river for the night. We went to shore, walked into town and found a nice restaurant where we had dinner and a few drinks before walking back to the boat.

Next morning we made a few phone calls and decided that Catskill was the spot where we would drop the mast. We waited until favorable current around 8 am, then hauled our anchor and headed out towards the Catskills. It was hot, still and very pretty. We made good time because we had a favorable 1.5 knot current. We anchored just north of the Rip Van Winkle bridge and started to take down sails. We figured that would save us a day of docking fees. It was hot. Very hot. Luckily there was a good wind and plenty of shade helped to keep us cool.

After we had the sails down we motored in to the marina, arriving around 4:30 pm. We walked into town and ate at a quaint restaurant that doubled as an ice cream shop. Right as we finished dinner they closed, so we had to wander elsewhere looking for some dessert. Luckily we found a place that was still open and enjoyed some good ice cream before heading back to the boat. It was very very hot and sticky. There was a promise of rain but nothing materialized.

We had tied up next to two boats coming from Quebec and headed south. They were having their masts raised and conveniently enough their equipment matched our purposes to a tee, so after their sticks went up, we took their trusses and with an hour or so of modification we were ready. They lifted our mast out of the hole through the cabin top and lowered it slowly on to the trusses and then we secured it down with straps. It looked a little unsteady, but the guys that were running the lift said that we did a good job and that everything looked fine. It was rather strange to have your mast above your head, it changed the way the boat behaves. It now rocked more quickly, much like a powerboat. It’s going to take a while to get used to the new feeling. After we had the mast fully secured we filled up with diesel, bought ice and then went back to the Rip Van Winkle bridge where we anchored for the night. It was much cooler out there with the wind blowing off the water.

We awoke the next morning and around 10 when the current was slack we hauled anchor and were able to take a favorable current all the way to our first lock which was in Troy. The river slowly narrowed to less than a quarter mile; we passed through Albany and then Troy where there was a quick lock to go over a spillway and then a short distance later we pulled into the entrance of the Erie Canal. There were free docks for tie up along with showers and water, so we took full advantage. We met a very nice couple on the way who also tied up and went out to dinner with him. They were from Muskegon in Michigan. After dinner we strolled back to the boat and collapsed exhausted. It was still hot and sticky. Next morning we headed out and ate breakfast at a diner that was very very inexpensive, $2 for eggs and toast! With a huge breakfast and coffee to boot our bill was less than $15, quite a nice surprise in New York where things have been unusually expensive.

We headed to the grocery store and the liquor store and picked up our necessities for the rest of the trip and then headed back. We were glad that we went early in the morning because it got very hot, steamy and uncomfortable. On the way back we passed a cherry tree packed with fruit, so we came back and picked cherries to our hearts content. We picked almost 2 quarts and after being in the hot sun for a while, we took our plunder and returned to the boat.

We ended up spending the afternoon watching Netflix with a fan running just to stay cool. After a light dinner we went to bed and woke early the next morning, grabbed a bag of ice and started the motor just as the first lock door was opening. We went through five locks in quick succession, going up about 200 feet and then motored for a while on the Mohawk River which is now part of the Erie Canal system. It was very picturesque, houses and small marinas dotted the sides of the canal, but for the most part it was green and heavily wooded and just absolutely beautiful.

Halfway between locks 6 and 7 our engine alarm came on. We shut down, dropped anchor and started to look for things that could be causing problems. First check was the strainer and although we had been going through relatively clear water, the strainer was quite clogged and looked like it was obstructing the flow of water. There was one big leaf caught in it and that would have been enough to severely restrict the flow. Our solution was to run the box fan blowing air on to the engine, and that cooled it down enough so that we were able to start motoring again after we had cleaned the strainer and put everything back together.

We made it up to lock 9, which is the eighth lock in the Erie Canal system and there we stopped for the night. There was a state park as well as an ice cream store, so the dog was happy and so were we. We took a walk to the store, then headed back to the boat and met a lock master named Clay. He was doing some maintenance work after hours and we chatted with him for quite a while before heading back to the boat.

Next morning we were up bright and early and after picking up some ice, we headed through the first lock, lock 9. It was a gorgeous morning, it had rained a little during the night so it was a bit cool and cloudy and there was not a breath of wind. After we motored out of the lock, we headed across a glassy, mirror like dam back into the canal system. It was lined with trees, bushes, rocks and all sorts of wildlife. We saw Kingbirds, Kingfishers flying around collecting dinner, Grackles, Killdeer, Osprey, Herons and Eagles; it was wonderful to see nature up close like this, so relaxing. After an hour or so, the wind came up a little bit from the West and offered us a cooling breeze.

We pulled in at lock 11 because it said there were some historic artifacts to be seen. We walked around aimlessly in the sweltering heat for about an hour before we realized that the artifacts had all been washed away in the flood from a few years back. We got back to the boat, cast off and headed westward. We went through beautiful mountain passes covered in trees of green, it was spectacular. Around 5, we pulled into Canajoharie and tied up at a free dock there. Melanie made a snack for us, and after eating, we headed to shore to explore.

It was very hot, so we really decided to just walk around the park where the dog was and talk to some of the locals. Then we turned in for the night. It was uncomfortably warm, train whistles blew all night long and the roar of I-90 right next to us made it difficult to sleep. Add to that the heat and humidity with no air conditioning and we were very uncomfortable. I slept well, Melanie did not. We awoke bright and early the next morning and went through lock 14 with a tug and continued up the Mohawk River. The river had narrowed quite substantially until it was only perhaps 50 yards wide, trees lined the bank with the odd cornfield poking through in between. We wound our way along the foothills of some mountain range to our North, through the pass towards Buffalo.

Just before we reached Lock 16, we pulled into a small RV campground right on the canal at Saint Johnsville to pick up ice and water. We continued on until we arrived at Lock 17. Just before we hailed the lock the heavens opened and it poured with rain. We were actually thankful, because it was so hot and windless and we were both very overheated. The rain cooled us down quite a bit, washed the boat a little and when it let up we went into the lock. It was an unusual one, the East gate was actually an up and down gate, not the opening doors which most of the other locks had. They lifted the gate, we drove under, then they closed it behind us. It was the largest lock we have been in on the canal so far and the lift was over 40 feet. When the doors opened we left and headed for lock 18 which we passed through without incident and shortly after leaving the lock, we decided to pull over in Herkimer for the night. While trying to tie up to the wall we ran aground – twice! Our poor overworked engine managed to get us off, but we were a little rattled. We ended up tying up in about 8 feet of water right at the very end of the dock, about as far East as you can go without actually leaving, then Melanie made us each a stiff drink.

It poured all night long, and didn’t let up until the next morning about 9. After breakfast we decided we would head out to do laundry, so we packed up our stuff, left the boat and decided to visit the gift shop right near where we were tied up. Its a good thing that we did, because 2 minutes after we got inside it started pouring again! It rained and rained and after talking with the staff for a while we decided it was better to just hit the road and do laundry elsewhere. It finally stopped raining around 11 and we were on the road by noon, once again headed west into a somewhat hazy sky due to the humidity and rain. The canal closed around us until it was perhaps only a hundred feet wide as we motored up the tree-lined “road” towards lock 19.

Our next stop was a short two miles up the canal, Ilion. We tied up at a free dock, and took a short walk into town to the Remington Arms Factory Museum. It was a fascinating history on the development and manufacture of Remington rifles and pistols. After the tour we spoke to one of the people that had worked there for quite a while, then walked back to the boat, stopping for an ice cream at Stewart’s and then at Aldi for a few quick necessities. It was 3 p.m. by the time we arrived back at the boat, so we hastily cast off and set out for the next lock which was about 7 miles away.

We passed through the lock without incident, and motored up to lock 20 where we tied up on the wall for the night. Next morning around 7:30 we passed through; the wall was very pitted and with the currents in the lock as they let in the water, it was difficult keeping the boat off the wall. Right after we left the lock we ran aground. They were doing dredging work and the barge that was dredging was anchored across the channel, and as I moved to go around it, we ran aground. They had to straighten themselves out and luckily we were able to motor off and then motor through the area where the barge used to be. There was a lot of debris and a lot of shallow spots that they apparently appear to be working on; many downed trees and rotten, dead stumps litter the canal. It does need some maintenance.

We stopped in Rome, walked to Fort Stanwix, then headed over to Ace Hardware to buy more cooking alcohol. The fort was a recreation, built to the original plans and was quite spectacular. It was rebuilt in 1976 and is by far the best representation of an old Revolutionary War Fort that we have seen. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting it before heading back and casting off, heading Westward once again.

The area between lock 20 and lock 21 is a watershed. We were going up in lock 20, and lock 21 was headed down towards Lake Oneida. Fort Stanwix was built to protect the portage between the two from marauding Indians and and thieves. Goods were shipped up the Mohawk River and then carried 6 miles across to Wood Creek where they were loaded on and taken down to Oneida and Westward. The Erie Canal took care of that Portage.

We passed through lock 21 and then a short mile later, lock 22, which dropped us a total of 50 feet. We then motored to Sylvan, a small vacation town located at the entrance to Lake Oneida and there we tied up for the night. We took a walk around the area near the city dock and then bought some takeout food at a small restaurant. We met another boater headed west to Lake Superior; he and his crew came aboard our boat and we chatted a while. Next morning we filled up, pumped out and motored across Lake Oneida to the other side where we spent the night at a small Marina called Ess-Kay. It was very quaint, quiet, clean and well-kept. The owners were very personable and we enjoyed letting Windsor run free and play with their dog. They had a courtesy car which they lent us so we could run a few errands and do laundry. It was a wonderful stay. Next morning we headed out to lock 23 which was a few miles away, off again headed westward.

We motored down the canal through lock 23 and lock 24 before coming to Cross Lake where we anchored in the southwest corner for the night. This lake is about the size of Alum Creek, although not quite as narrow in the middle. Very scenic with homes all around and not particularly busy. It was a calm, restful night. After breakfast the next morning we hauled anchor and headed west. The distance between lock 24 and 25 is 31 miles and we had done about 8 to get to Cross Lake, so we had a fairly long motor ahead of us before the next lift. It was very picturesque, a carpet of green on each side but there was also a lot of water weed. Hyacinth is starting to choke out the channel. We did see some “mowers” that harvested the stuff, people were driving them around attempting to vacuum it up to keep the waterway clear.

We passed through locks 25 and 26 before pulling over in Clyde. The city dock had water, shore power and a pump out, so it was a good spot to stop and stretch our legs. The town was pretty much closed up, almost too deserted for a Saturday, so we headed back to the boat after walking around and looking at some of the older architecture, took in some Netflix and went to bed. It rained during the night and we slept in, we never left until about 10 a.m. the next morning.

Melanie cooked breakfast while we were on the way, continuing down the green leafy road called The Erie Canal which at this point was only 75 to 100 feet wide. Between locks 28B and lock 29, we passed a barge being pushed by a tug! The river was only 60 to 70 feet wide at that point! It was a little harrowing trying to edge past each other safely and not run aground, but we managed somehow and then continued on our way. Just before lock 29, we stopped under an overpass which was a close walk to a grocery store. Melanie went to pick up a few things while I waited with the boat. Then we were on our way, passing through locks 29 and 30 and tying up to the wall just after lock 30 to explore the park. There was not as much there as we were led to believe; part of the old Canal which is now being used as a spillway, and huge wooden boxes that were used like anchors. There was also a little butterfly park we took a walk in; very cute. I walked into the gas station in town to pick up some ice and there was not much there either. Town was pretty deserted; everything was closed but being a Sunday that was not surprising.

Next morning we left around 10 a.m., motored through locks 32 and 33 and then down the narrow gorge carved into the rock outside of Rochester. In some places the cliffs on either side were 40 foot high. The glare from the clouds caused us to miss spotting a huge tree trunk which we hit at full speed. We were horrified. We threw the boat into neutral, slowed it down and checked for damage. We still had steerage and we did not appear to have any leaks so I think the keel probably spun the log and pushed it out of the way and it did not damage the propeller shaft. We posted a watch on the bow of the boat so that I would have enough time to avoid any in the future. The glare on the water made it very difficult for me to see what was ahead down low.

We arrived at Spencerport just before 5pm, ahead of the Glass blowing barge that was touring the canal ports. We registered, then headed into town, a short block away and enjoyed dinner outside at an Irish pub which served some superb food.

The second day in Spencerport we did laundry, and in late afternoon met a couple from New Hampshire that was doing the canal in an 18-foot Hunter! We chatted long into the night with them and had a wonderful evening. Towards bedtime it started raining and it poured all night long, not stopping until 11 in the morning. We took our time, slept in and were generally lazy. When the rain stopped, we headed in for a cup of coffee and then said our goodbyes and cast off. The lift bridge was unusual. Most have towers and the bridge is hoisted up the tower. This one was underground and pushed the bridge up. Very unusual.

We motored until about 6 p.m. and pulled into the canal Port of Medina. We tied up there to a free wall with electric and water, and after an afternoon drink, we walked into town to explore. The town is renowned for its sandstone, and there were many buildings constructed with that material that have been restored and are quite beautiful. We stopped at an Irish Pub, ate dinner and chatted to a few of the patrons before heading back to the boat to watch a little TV and hit the sack. Next morning I did a little bit of work while Melanie relaxed and then we walked into town to the railroad museum. It was the most spectacular collection of railroad related memorabilia that I have ever seen. Quite an amazing display. Then we headed back to the boat, cast off and headed westward to our next Port, Lockport. It was only a 3 hour motor, and after passing through the double locks, 34 and 35, we pulled over at a free wall and tied up for the night. I took a quick trip to a gas station for ice before we settled in to enjoy the evening.

Next morning we took a walk down to the lock district and had a good cup of coffee before heading down to the locks where we poked around. The famous “flight of five” original locks are still there and were converted into a spillway right next to the current working locks. They have all kinds of stuff from pictures of the construction to memorabilia and original equipment from the historic lock period. It was a fascinating tour; we got to watch an interesting phenomenon; a boat going down and one coming up at the same time. Our morning culminated with a hearty late breakfast at a local diner. Then we went ziplining across the Erie canal and celebrated afterwards with some ice cream from a famous local shop. After a full day, we headed back to the boat and relaxed for the evening. Melanie made a yummy chicken stew which we gobbled down before settling in for the night.

We started slowly the next morning, after breakfast we went down to the lock district, had a cup of coffee and went to the farmers market that was open on Saturdays. We bought a few veggies, some cheese and then a bag of ice and headed back to the boat. We did our preliminary checks, started the motor, cast of and headed Westward. After Lockport the canal goes through a man-made gorge. The water is about 15 ft lower than the surrounding land, so it’s like a tunnel on each side of rocks and trees, very scenic. Then the gorge gradually flattened out until we motoring down the Tonawanda river through the suburbs on the outskirts of Buffalo. We arrived around 3pm and tied up at Gateway park near where the river merges with the Niagara River. Our canal adventure was over and now it was time to become a sailboat again and head to our home port.





Aiming For New York

Bright and early the next morning we were up and on the road again, motoring because there was absolutely no wind. The sea was smooth without even a cat’s paw, so on it was with the iron genny and we motored our way towards Newport. It was beautiful and sunny, some high clouds but it looked to be a nice, warm day. The wind gradually increased, and around 2 hours into the journey we were able to turn off the motor and ended up with a glorious sail to Newport. Winds were 15 to 20 knots and we made quick work of the 45 miles needed to get there, arriving before 4pm and anchoring just south of Goat Island in front of the city.

One of Melanie’s school friends lives here, so we met Joan and her husband Bill for lunch the following day and then walked back to their home where we met their son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter. We spent a lovely afternoon with them and then walked back to the boat and picked up the dog to take him for a walk. We stopped at an Irish pub for a good Irish coffee before heading back to the boat for the night.

After work the next day we headed in to shore with the intent of doing laundry and Melanie, in passing our full, cumbersome bag of laundry over the rail to me in the dinghy, threw out her back, so after finished the laundry we spent the afternoon Ubering to a chiropractor who got her walking again, and then to West Marine for oil change and toilet stuff. Our head is going to need a rebuild – ugh – the joys of boat life. After errands we headed back to the boat and watched a few shows while Melanie relaxed in an effort to get her back to calm down. She was feeling much better, so we went out for a drink and some pizza with our friends from Germany. Everyone is abuzz about the World Cup, so we arranged to go the following day to watch Germany play in their second match against Sweden.

Next morning we headed into shore to do some grocery shopping. We picked up a few things from the hardware store as well and then stopped at the health food market for a good cup of coffee before heading to the boat to unpack our groceries. Then we were back to shore where we headed up to the FedEx store to mail a small gift for our new grandbaby Jemma. Then a quick stroll down through the historic section to Buskers, an Irish bar where we watched the World Cup. Germany was playing Sweden and our friends were there spellbound. A last minute goal helped Germany to a much needed win. After that we strolled over to the Newport Shipyard, there were a lot of power boats but very few sailboats there; I guess we were lucky on our last visit. We made our way back slowly to our dock, and found some ice cream along the way. Once back we watched some shows before heading off to bed. It was cold and we really didn’t feel like doing a whole lot except snuggling up and watching Netflix.

We woke rather late and were slow to get going, but once we’d had a cup of coffee we went into shore and took a shower, had a light breakfast, said our goodbyes and then hauled anchor and departed. It was a cloudy, dreary day and right as we were leaving the sun peeked out just a bit. We raised our sails and decided to sail out of the harbor as there was really nice wind blowing for a change. We beat out of the harbor into an incoming tide and a dying wind until we got to the point where after 2 miles of progress in three hours of sailing we bagged it and turned the motor on so we could make better headway. Our old friend Mr. Fog settled down as well and soon we were surrounded in a shroud of white with very low visibility.

We poked our way cautiously through the fog until we were near the approaches of the entrance to Block Island Harbor. Right then the fog lifted and we were able to enter the harbor and anchor with good visibility. We snuggled in for the night and watched Netflix and during the night the weather turned and we had rain, thunder and lightning until morning. The next morning the wind was out of the North at 15 to 25 knots and it was gloriously sunny! After work we headed out and set sail towards the Connecticut River.

In looking at our destination, we thought we would have a nice beam reach but the reality of it was the wind was coming from dead ahead, just like always. Close hauled in 20 to 25 knots made for a slow, bumpy ride. Thankfully it was sunny but still a little chilly. The waves bouncing around between the the islands made for a very ugly chop; I could see at least four different directions that swells were coming from. When they all hit us at the same time, our speed would drop down from 5 to less than 2 knots! It was quite frustrating trying to make decent headway through the sloppy mess.

As we neared the entrance of the Long Island Sound, the chop seemed to lessen a little bit and the wave directions became more predictable. The wind slowly died and around 4:30 we decided to start the engine. Within 5 minutes of starting the engine the wind switched from the Northwest to the Southeast and came up enough that it gave us about a half a knot of speed. We decided to continue motoring at that point because we wanted to get in to our destination before sunset. We had five miles to Fishers Island and then another 13 miles beyond that to get to the Connecticut River.

Within 5 minutes of starting the engine we turned it off. The wind came up to 10 to 15 knots and we were able to move comfortably under sail between 4 1/2 and 5 knots, so no need to use the iron genny in those circumstances. We had a nice following swell and an incoming tide with a little current to help us so our rough ride when we left Block Island was now nice and smooth and we had glorious sunshine to help warm us.

We passed through the race which is the entrance to Long Island Sound and our speed increased to over 7 briefly but then as we got further into the sound the wind slowly died until we reluctantly started the motor. It was a a good day’s sail; a good six hours before we fired up the motor to ensure we would be in Old Saybrook before dark.

We pulled in just before sunset, and after a nightcap we headed below to watch Netflix. After work the next morning we dropped the dinghy and headed into shore. We spoke to a few locals for a while and then walked into town to do a little exploring. We found the Katharine Hepburn Museum and toured it, spoke to the curator for quite a while and then found a gluten free vegan deli where we had coffee and a yummy treat.

We walked around a little more, exploring the local area and then headed back towards the boat, passing through a cemetery on the way where we found the tombstone of Art Carney. Then we stopped at the local Yacht Club and chatted to a few people there before heading back to the boat for dinner. Next morning after breakfast we dropped our mooring and headed off. The water was glassy. There was almost no wind and it ended up being an all-day motor.

We went into New Haven and just before entering the main break wall the wind came up so we sailed with the motor on for a short period of time. We motored down into what looked to be the heart of the city and dropped anchor. There was supposed to be stuff to see; there wasn’t. After scoping out the land with binoculars we realized there was really nowhere to go ashore, so we hauled our anchor and headed off to Morris Cove which is closer to the entrance of the harbor.

It was late, so we did not go ashore. We ate a light snack for dinner and then watched a few shows before turning in. The mooring, although sheltered was rather uncomfortable. There was a gentle swell from the South that kept us rolling back and forth all night. On top of that, a front was on the way towards us, and it arrived around 9pm. It started with gentle rain which lulled us to sleep, but at 5:30 am I awoke to the sound of thunder. Windsor was scared of the lightning and so I got up and went and laid in the salon so he would have someone to “keep him safe”. It stormed for hours! The lightning and thunder only lasted about an hour and a half, but it rained hard for a good 5 hours. That is of course when the leaks started – all those little drips that are so hard to find became steady streams, like flowing rivers and we had plenty of them.

We diagnosed the worst of them and determined that our stays needed to be re-bedded. A few hot days to dry things out and that will be another item on the to-do list. We decided to motor over to Jefferson Harbor, across on Long Island, and spend a few nights there. The harbor is home to Setauket, the home town of many of the individuals that worked in Washington’s spy ring during the battle for independence. We left to the promise of a sunny day; the clouds burned off and things started to dry out but as before, no wind. So once again we ended up motoring the 20 odd miles it took to get there. We noticed when we were about 10 miles away that the skies to the North and West were darkening. When we checked radar, we found a nasty line of thunderstorms racing towards us. It looked like they could perhaps miss us, so we motored on and prayed they would head North of us. They held off for an amazingly long time, but 5 or 6 miles from the harbor our luck ran out.

The rain came skipping across the water, starting off as an intermittent drizzle, then increasing to a steady rain, all the while lightning and thunder strolled back and forth in the heavy overcast to our North. Then we saw a wall of mist coming towards us. It was the rain storm; it had moved south of us and was wrapping around and enclosing us. Winds were not too bad but we had dropped our sails already just in case. Windsor was downstairs and we were togged up in our foulies and ready for battle. It POURED, visibility was less than a 100 yards and we were subjected to continuous lightning and thunder for almost an hour while we relied on our compass and charts to keep us going in the right direction. Huge strikes of lightning slammed into the water all around us, the closest struck less than a half mile away. We huddled under the bimini top and used an umbrella to help keep the rain off us (worked surprisingly well) and Melanie read Psalm 91 while I wrestled the boat towards the harbor entrance. About a mile from the channel, the rain let up and visibility improved enough so I could see the harbor entrance and the lay of the land.

We motored in and by the time we had found our spot and dropped anchor, the rain was done, the sun had peeked out and we were treated to a full rainbow. We were cold and wet, but nevertheless sat up and enjoyed a stiff drink before heading down below for the night. After breakfast the next morning, we hauled anchor and motored down to the mooring ball field – we picked up a ball for a night so we could do laundry and get a real shower. After settling in, we took the dinghy and motored the 2 miles over to Setauket harbor and walked around looking for spy stuff. We found the tomb of Abraham Woodhull, the first minister of the church Nathaniel Tallmadge, and the homes of Caleb Brewster and Benjamin Tallmadge when they were growing up. We enjoyed walking around although it got very, very hot and soon we were starving.

We found the SE-Port deli which we found out later was quite well known and bought a lunch there which was WAY more than we could eat. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we ended up leaving half of it for later on. We motored back to the boar and then Melanie mixed up some nice refreshing drinks which we sucked down all to quickly before finishing the rest of the food and then watching the remainder of the series Turn. Next morning started out promising but the wind quickly died. After laundry and a visit to the local coffee shop, we took showers, headed back to the boat and then filled up with water and took off, our next stop Oyster Bay. This is another area of the country where a lot of the espionage activity took place.

We dropped anchor around 6 p.m., had a few drinks and some light snacks before going down below at sunset and watching the last episode of Turn again; we had fallen asleep the previous night while watching and missed the final wrap-up. After breakfast we headed into shore and found a spot to leave the dinghy and we walked into town. We found a nice coffee shop after talking to a local and there we enjoyed a good cup of coffee and a gluten free breakfast wrap while trying to watch some local news. I am so glad there is no TV on the boat, the news is wrong, misleading and divisive – we were forced to opt out while traveling and I am so glad we did!

We strolled around and found the Historical Society and the Raynham Museum, home of Robert Townsend. They didn’t open until 1 p.m. so we decided to find a place that sold ice cream to help us cool off. It was quite a walk and in the heat of the day we ended up hot and sweaty by the time we arrived there. We enjoyed some good cold chocolate ice cream before walking back to the historical society and taking a tour. Then we went over to the Raynham house and took a tour through Robert Townsend’s family home. There was so much history there, it was very nice to see how it all tied together with the series we had just finished watching. We thoroughly enjoyed our day and around 6 we headed back to the sailing club where we had left the dinghy and had a few drinks before heading back to the boat. We struck up a conversation with Tony, one of the members and had an enjoyable discussion before heading back to the boat at sunset and collapsing into bed.

We were up early the next morning, anchor up and out of Oyster Bay. On the way we passed Billy Joel’s house and the largest sailboat I have seen on this trip. It was huge! Once out into the sound to our surprise the wind was strong enough for us to be able to sail down towards New York without the incessant thumping of the motor. It had been almost a week since we could travel without running the engine. We made good progress, picking up a few balloons along the way, but it was very hazy and hot. By 10 a.m. it was 87 degrees and the visibility was less than 5 miles.

At the point just beyond Oyster Bay, Long Island Sound is only about 5 miles wide; we were about a mile from Long Island and four miles from Connecticut and we could not see the Connecticut coastline! All this pollution and haze, I’m glad we don’t live here! As we came closer to the city, the pollution and smog got thicker. A few miles off Port Washington, visibility was down to less than two and a half miles! There were boats we could see on our chart plotter that we could not see even with binoculars and they were less than 3 miles away.

We motored down the East River through Hell’s Gate and then out to the Statue of Liberty where we dropped anchor between her and the shore. Next day we headed into the marina and took a ferry over to see Ground Zero and walked a little bit of the surrounding area. We saw the church where Washington gave his inaugural address and just strolled around enjoying the neighborhood. We spent a good few hours down there before returning back to the boat. We were all hot, sticky and tired. We spent the 4th on the boat just relaxing and during the afternoon a protester climbed the outside of the statue. The island was evacuated and we had front row seats to the SWAT team climbing the statue and taking her into custody. What an afternoon!

Later that evening one of our boat neighbors that was anchored near us came over and we watched the fireworks together. Unfortunately they were a little further up the East River than we thought and they ended up going off behind all the buildings at the South end of Manhattan; we saw very little. We were so disappointed. After the fireworks were over we were sitting around talking and then fireworks started up again, this time on the Hudson River just north of where we were and we had a ringside seat for those. So although we didn’t see the main fireworks we got to see quite a spectacular display of twin fireworks; they shot identical shells up on the New Jersey and the New York side of the river and it was quite a show. After they finished our friend left and we retired to bed exhausted.

Thursday started early; on our trip ashore on Tuesday we had booked 9am tickets on the Jersey ferry over to the Statue and Ellis Island. We were up and running early so we could motor the 40 minutes or so to a local marina where we left the dinghy and walked to the ferry. Our trip was wonderful. There is so much history there. We spent about 4 hours walking through the museum on Ellis Island, watched a few documentaries, ate lunch and then headed over to the statue for a few hours before coming back to the boat. The wind really picked up during the day and blew the smog away, so we had our first clear day in the city. This also made for a nice 2 to 3 ft chop in the bay, so our dinghy ride back to the boat got us both soaked. We toasted the day and after a light dinner watched a few shows before heading to bed. We awoke the next morning to thunder and the sound of rain. It rained on and off for most of the day, so we stayed aboard and planned our last trip into the city to visit Roy, his wife and kids. Roy played football with Aaron, Melanie’s 3rd son, in high school and he lives right on the Hudson across from Manhattan.

In the afternoon the wind switched from the south to the West and came up to between 25 and 30 knots. It howled all night long and got so bad that I got up at about 2 a.m. and lashed the windmill so that it would not spin because it was going so fast I was afraid that it would try and take off on us again as it has twice before. It was still blowing 20 to 25 in the morning  when we hauled anchor and motored in to do errands and laundry. It took almost an hour to go the 2 miles as the tide was headed out, and there was a 3 knot current fighting our progress.

The marina had a 2-hour courtesy dock, so we came in, took showers, did our laundry, and then filled with water and diesel before heading over to Surf City, a restaurant on the other side of the cove to meet Roy and Jenny and their kids for lunch. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch with them, and after our goodbyes we dropped our dock lines, motored out into the Hudson and turned North, headed for Albany and home.

A Quick Tour Around New England

Michelle and Steve came the following day and by 11am they were on the boat. We filled the water tanks and then left for Provincetown. Forecasted winds were very strong out of the northwest, but it turned into the fizzle. Winds instead of being 20 to 30 knots were only 5 to 10 knots so we ended up motoring all the way over to Provincetown. Once anchored we headed into town and walked around the downtown area before finding a place to sit and eat a few appetizers. Then we headed back to the boat.


The next day was supposed to be sunny and warm; we woke to rain. It stopped shortly after we had eaten breakfast. Melanie made a wonderful omelette and that with a good cup of coffee gave us a good start to the day. We hauled anchor and ended up motoring the entire way to Martha’s Vineyard. Our first stop was the canal entrance which took about four hours, we saw some seals along the way but not much other life. It was very calm and very chilly, we were all wearing hats and gloves. Once into the canal our speed went up to almost 10 knots and we zoomed through the canal quickly. After coming out the other side we changed course and aimed for the cut near Woods Hole where we passed through the islands and then headed on to Martha’s Vineyard.

We tied up in Martha’s Vineyard to a mooring ball about an hour later, and headed into shore. The marina we chose was totally disorganized. Everyone had left for the day and the restaurant knew nothing about the mooring balls. We went and ate at the Black Dog Tavern, enjoying a stuffed Quahog and then headed back to the boat to watch some movies before turning in. We left our contact information with the restaurant manager as well as calling it in to the marina, but it felt almost as if we weren’t welcome. I have heard that from others as well, so no surprise there.


Next morning we were up and gone by 5:30am headed to Plymouth. We needed to catch the current through the canal and so we got an early start, heading out into a very rough area between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard. The current and the wind were against each other. We scooted through and by the time we got past Martha’s Vineyard there was no wind and we ended up motoring the entire way. Wouldn’t you believe it, right before we crossed under the railroad bridge in the Cape Cod Canal it closed! The canal Patrol yelled at us, forcing us to turn around and then yelled at us again because we weren’t getting away from the area. I pointed to my radio but apparently he wasn’t using it. What he never realized was that the current was 5 knots and our boat was only capable of doing a little over 5, so we pretty much marked time until the bridge opened again and we were able to turn and pass through.


We motored on to Plymouth, and there we spent the afternoon walking around the historic part of the city before enjoying a bottle of wine at the 1620 Winery and then heading back to the boat. After taking in a movie, we turned in and woke up the next morning bright and early to catch the outgoing tide to Boston. We ended up motoring the whole way into Boston as well which turned out to be quite busy because it was Father’s Day. There were boats of every kind all over the place and the flight banks at the airport were very busy.


We picked up a mooring ball and after tying up we dropped the dinghy and headed in to shore. We walked around the Italian part of the city, saw Paul Revere’s house and his statue and then started looking for a place to eat. We ended up settling on a place called the Sail Loft where we enjoyed a good seafood dinner before heading back to the boat. On the way we wandered down through Quincy Market and then once back to the boat we caught a quick show. We watched Absolutely Fabulous, a comedy show from England which is quite hilarious.


Next morning Michelle and Steve packed and after doing our morning chores we headed out, refueled and then dropped them off at the water taxi stop near the Hyatt so they could catch the shuttle to the airport. We headed out, motor sailing out of Boston Harbor and about 3 hours out, all of a sudden weather warnings started rolling in over the radio. Severe thunderstorms were all around us and headed our way! The wind piped up from 20 knots to over 30 with gusts over 40. The boat managed well, but we were very concerned that we would get caught in a bad storm. Friends and family started praying fervently and the Lord answered their prayers. The skies parted around us and storms moved to our North and to our South, missing us completely and we stayed dry even though the wind was quite strong and the waves made it quite rough.

About an hour before we arrived in Plymouth it started to rain, quite hard, but we were able to safely pick up a mooring ball around 11 p.m. and after a shot of whiskey we headed to bed. We got news that evening that Melanie’s oldest son and his wife were headed to the hospital for the birth of their baby girl. We were very excited. We slept hard that night, and next morning we awoke to find out that we had a new granddaughter, born at 5 a.m.! We were thrilled!


I worked in the morning until around noon and then we dropped the ball and motored out of Plymouth Harbor and set sail. We only used the jibs but we made good time down to the Cape Cod Canal and even though it was quite chilly, it was a glorious sunny day. Melanie made lunch while we were underway and we enjoyed being able to sail without the incessant throbbing of the diesel engine. It has worked hard and performed well, but we have never liked motoring and always preferred the quiet of sailing with the rushing sound of the water passing the hull.

Of course the wind died as it normally does and about 2 miles from the canal we reluctantly turned on the motor as our speed was only 1.5 knots. We made it to the entrance around 5 p.m. and took a favorable current, passing through the canal in about an hour. For the second time we heard a call to boaters in the canal that the railroad bridge was closing! It was difficult for us the first time because the current was at peak and was over 5 knots. This time the current was about four knots and we were further away, so I simply put the motor in neutral which slowed us down enough that we were able to drift on the current without worrying about fighting against it, and by the time the bridge came into view, the train had passed and it was on the way up. Once through, we picked up a mooring ball on the South side at the exit of the canal.


We enjoy the few Sundowner drinks and watched the traffic go by before heading down, watching a show and then going to bed. We went to bed early as we both felt run down from sailing the previous day through the storm.



Headed to New England

Next morning we were up at 5:45. We hoisted the dinghy and secured it for travel, then hauled anchor and headed out into the Atlantic, our next destination Block Island. The wind was light to start with so after a short while of sailing between 2 and 2.5 knots we decided to run the motor until the wind started to behave a little more favorably. Our excitement for the morning was practicing man overboard drills. In the space of 30 minutes we fished 7 mylar balloons out of the water about 15 miles off Atlantic City. To a turtle these balloons look like it’s favorite food, jellyfish. They eat it and it kills them. We “rescue” mylar balloons whenever we see them out on the water, regardless of where we are. By early afternoon we had collected 14 balloons, one plastic shopping bag and a Clorox bottle. The wind finally came up enough for us to turn the motor off and we were able to sail at a comfortable 5.5 to 6 knots under sail alone. It was nice not having the motor running.

We passed through the traffic lanes for the Port of New York City and by sunset we had already covered over 70 mi. It was a little chilly but the wind held up and we were able to make between 5 and 6 knots for most of the evening. There was a dry cold front forecasted to pass through which would switch the wind to the west from the south. With our wind direction we were almost on a dead run so when it was time for bed we changed course a little to make the ride downstairs for the off watch person a little more comfortable. We zigzagged across our course during the night, maintaining roughly a 5 knot average in speed but as before, the wind slowly died until around sunrise we were only traveling at 2 knots. We switched on the iron genny and motored across a flat sea towards Block Island. There was just enough of a swell along with the following wind to make sleeping down below a challenging task. Neither one of us got much sleep although I think I may have gotten the better watch as the wind was dying and so the rolling was not as drastic towards morning.

At sunrise we were off the coast of Long Island, near Southampton. We motored up the coast towards Block Island and with sunrise came our balloon chasing again. The previous day had netted us probably 20 mylar balloons and by 10 in the morning we had already added six more to that. It was demoralizing to see so much human waste out in the ocean where it could harm nature. There was never quite enough wind to keep us to going and we ended up motoring all day until we finally reached Block Island around 6:30 p.m. The sunshine weakly warmed us up a little bit but it was still quite chilly on the water.

Once anchored, we dropped the dinghy and headed in to shore. We took a walk and on the recommendation of someone we met, went back and had a great tasting banana mudslide at one of the bars. Then we went to the Oar, the local sailing hang out and bought a couple of appetizers and glass of wine and watched the sun set over the water. We were only a couple, maybe 20 yards from the water but we were 50ft up and the view was spectacular. There was one very large sailboat in the harbor, almost look like one of the J-boats that we saw in Newport. There must have been a regatta because there were tons of sailboats; on mooring balls, anchored, and tied up at the docks – all flying their race flags. After our snack we came back to the boat, watched some Netflix and then hit the hay. We slept well.

Next morning we were up, hauled anchor and out of the harbor by 7:30 and on our way to the next stop which was the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. As usual there was a light wind but it was blowing from the direction we were trying to go so we started off motoring. We ended up motoring all day. The wind was very light and the ocean was like glass. We motored up into Buzzards Bay and found free mooring balls across from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. We tied up and then Melanie hoisted me up to the spreaders to fix our flag halyard. After that we watched some movies and went to bed. Tomorrow was an early day because we needed to catch the current to go through the canal between 5 and 9 a.m. The current runs at 5 knots and with our top speed at 5, it would have taken hours to go through the canal if the current had been going the wrong way.

We woke up bright and early at 5 a.m. in order to catch the favorable current through the Cape Cod Canal, dropped our mooring and by 5:15 we were motoring out of the small cove where we had spent the night and into the canal. The current was swift; our engine was barely at idle and we were already doing five knots. At half to 2/3 throttle we were doing between 8 and 9 knots! The land moved by swiftly on both sides, there were numerous eddies in the water that would shift our boat from side to side but the surface was smooth, no waves and we made a very quick time through the canal. We shot out the other side of the canal and into Cape Cod Bay in just under an hour. The wind was favorable but light, so we hoisted the sails and headed for Plymouth. We made quick progress and arrived around noon. We tied up on a free mooring ball and spent the day cleaning and then went into shore and walked to the grocery to do our shopping, then caught an Uber back to the boat. Then we packed everything away.

We left Plymouth early the next morning and sailed North toward Boston. Winds were 20 to 25 knots and we made good time up until we had to turn into the harbor. We dropped the sails except for the stay sail and turned in to the secondary harbor channel and the winds quickly increased to 30 to 35 knots. We slogged upwind until we reached Boston Harbor and then started to look for a place to anchor. There really was no where to safely drop a hook so we found a mooring ball field and picked one up for 2 days. It was very quaint, there were sailboat races in the harbor, jets taking off from the airport, and we arrived right at sunset so the lights of the city came on and bought it to life and it looked really beautiful.

We dropped the dinghy into the water and then went to shore to take the dog for a walk and to have an appetizer. Next day we walked around the North End which is the Italian section, then came back so I could do some work and we could prepare for the arrival of our friends Michelle and Steve. We tried watching a movie but ended up falling asleep so we will have to both watch it again – so it goes when life is full….

The Chesapeake And Beyond

Saturday morning after breakfast we cast off, went for a pump out and then headed down the Hampton River, raised our sails and started sailing North up the Chesapeake. We were aiming for a spot just north of Mobjack Bay and initially the current was with us and we had a great wind. We sailed at speeds of 6 knots or more for a few hours and then the wind died. The tide also changed and soon we had a 2 knot current going against us with zero wind so we had to fire up the iron Genny. Then we went to war with our fly swatters. We had hordes of black flies invading, trying to bite us and Melanie and I swatted as best we could. It was a blood bath. We killed scores of flies. They still kept coming and biting and to top it off, it was a miserably hot afternoon.

About 7pm we dropped anchor in the Piankatank River mouth. After a quick dinner of delicious salad that Melanie had cut from the boaters garden at the Hampton Marina we turned in for the night. During the night it stormed and rained and we awoke to a nice clean boat with all the cushions soaked. We got an early start and were on the road by 7:30. The wind was 15 to 20 and with the course we were on it was a direct run. We could only sail wing on wing. Then of course as always the wind faded and we were forced to run the motor and motor sail with three to four foot waves shaking what little wind we had out of the sails. Rocking backwards and forwards rail to rail made going down below almost impossible.

Then the flies showed up and once again Melanie and I went on a killing spree. The waves were coming from 45 degrees off the starboard stern, and the wind was 45 degrees off the port stern. This gave us a very uncomfortable direction we were forced to sail in and contributed to the rolling. Every once in a while a 4-footer would come by; we were convinced they were bow waves from tankers but couldn’t be sure. It rocked the boat from rail to rail. Very, very uncomfortable sailing. It seemed like the wind was either on the nose or directly from behind, but never favorable. We will need to purchase a whisker pole to make life downwind a little easier on the stomach.

We made good time while motor sailing and arrived in Crisfield, Maryland around 5 p.m. Around 3 p.m. the Coast Guard started talking about severe weather on the Chesapeake in our area, so we were anxious to find a safe harbor to anchor for the night. Crisfield was sheltered on all sides and offered very good protection. For a small fee we were able to take showers and enjoy their facilities and we dined at their small restaurant. We were able to make it back to the boat with a tub of chocolate ice cream just before the rain hit. It’s the first ice cream we’d had in ages.

We enjoyed it while it thundered and lightning flashed around us. It absolutely poured with rain. We went to bed to the sound of rain on the roof and lightning penetrating the curtains of the boat. Next morning we headed in for some ice and coffee and then motored out of the harbor, raised the sails and made our way to the Kedges strait. There are a group of Islands running up through the middle of the Chesapeake and these straits are away to cross through from East to west. Our goal was Solomon’s Island, approximately 35 miles away. We motor sailed, making between 5 and 6 knots because once again the wind was too light and the current too strong.

The wind died during the day but we had a favorable current to help us and we were able to make fairly good time towards our destination. Just before turning into the Patuxent River, our engine started to act up again! The RPMs would go up and down, up and down and if I didn’t take it out of gear it would stall. We figured we had bad gas. We somehow managed to limp in to the anchorage and once we arrived there we went ashore and had some hors d’oeuvres, appetizers and a glass of wine before heading back to bed. Next morning we approached a few of the locals about polishing our fuel and it looked like it was going to be a pretty expensive endeavor. We changed both the primary and the secondary fuel filters and then one of the locals came over and took a look at our engine and suggested that we might have an air leak in the fuel line. We tried to fix the fuel line by cutting it a little shorter and then reattaching it and would you believe it that fixed the problem!

So, for a little bit of irritation we were underway again after fueling up which took forever. We treated ourselves to a Klondike bar before leaving and then headed out from Solomon’s towards the entrance of the Choptank River, 15 miles north. All morning long we saw F18s and military helicopters doing exercises, as the other side of the Patuxent River was a naval air station. It was fun to watch the planes taking off and landing, especially since it wasn’t nearly as loud or busy as Oceana.

We motored out of the Patuxent River into the Chesapeake, and it was calm. No waves, just cats paws. It almost looked like Alum Creek, our sailing lake back home. So so flat. It was so calm that the sails never helped at all. We motored until around 7pm and then decided to find a place to anchor. We found a spot in Trippe Bay which was somewhat exposed to the west and the north but sheltered from East through South Southwest. We motored in until we were in about 10 feet of water and dropped anchor.

We made a sundowner drink and watched the sunset. It was reminiscent of the beautiful sunsets that we see on Lake Erie. I guess more haze and clouds in the sky makes for prettier shows. We woke up early the next morning, hauled the anchor and set sail. We decided to sail as far as we could or until we needed to run the motor because of no wind. The wind held steady and our speed gradually increased from 2 to 4 knots. We Sailed up past Poplar Island and then turned into Easter Bay towards St Michaels. There were no waves, the water was completely flat and there was about an 8 to 10 knot breeze blowing. Perfect sailing conditions for us, and there were apparently a lot of other people that agreed because there were a lot of sailors out enjoying the wind.

We made it into St. Michael’s around 4 in the afternoon, dropped anchor and then took the dinghy in to shore. We went to the museum and spoke to some of the workers there and got some good information about various things to do in town. We found some decent ice cream! Then we took a walk around town and went to Ava’s Pizzeria for dinner. We enjoyed a wonderful outdoor dinner, they were dog friendly and actually had a dog food menu. For the first time ever Windsor ate dinner with us. We headed back to the boat and in the morning after breakfast went and explored the Maritime Museum. It was a fabulous reflection of the history and culture of the Waterman of the Chesapeake.

We left around 1:30pm and motor sailed over to Annapolis. The wind was light to nothing and we ended up running the iron Genny all afternoon. As per normal we spent most of the journey swatting flies that were trying to bite us. Every day since we left Hampton we have been wrestling with flies. Hordes of them going after us, biting us, making life miserable, especially when there is no wind to cool you down and a burning hot sun reflecting off the surface of the water and making everything miserably hot and uncomfortable.

We finally arrived in Annapolis around 6:30 p.m., picked up a mooring ball in the harbor and went into shore to pay for it. We walked around a little in the the immediate downtown area and found an ice cream shop with good ice cream! Then we took a shower and headed back to the boat for the night. We just made it back when the rain started and it poured for a good few hours; everything got nice and clean.

Next day we explored the town, walking the streets and then met up with Melanie’s high school friend Louis and her husband George for a late lunch and appetizers. Then we headed back and had a happy hour with Heike and Herwig on their boat before returning with them to shore where they took us to a small jazz club that they had visited on their previous stop here. We wiled away a few hours listening to some very good, eclectic jazz over a bottle of wine. After that we were ready to return to the boat but were both very, very hungry so we ended up stopping at a deli diner for breakfast at midnight! It was actually quite good.

Next day after doing laundry we visited the Naval Academy and walked around the campus. It was quite a neat place; I was very impressed with their marina, LOTS of boats of all sizes. It started raining while we were walking around so we ended up heading back to the boat to escape the weather.

The next day did not start out so well. It started raining at around 4 a.m. and poured all day long. It finally let up around 5 and after listening to a few sermons and watching some movies we had decided that we needed to get off the boat. We donned our raincoats and headed for shore and splashed around in puddles of water, finally finding a small coffee shop where we enjoyed a good cup before finding a small bar to enjoy a glass of wine with a few appetizers before heading back.

The rain eventually let up around 10 p.m. . The temperature when we woke up that morning was in the low 70s and by the time we went to bed it was 58. We were freezing! Monday morning it was time to depart, so after we pumped out, refueled and re-iced, we said our goodbyes and headed out into the bay. All the Naval Academy sailboats, the 46-foot keel boats were out in the bay drilling and doing exercises, learning about sailing. It was very cool to watch them as they went about their drills.

We made really good time headed north but as we did the wind slowly died. We started off cloudy and cold but the sun did peek out and warm things up a little. The bay got narrower and we entered the Elk River and motored up to Chesapeake City. It is about 2 miles into the canal and there we anchored along with our friends aboard World Dancer II and about seven or eight other boats in a small, well protected cove. We went across and visited with them for a short while before heading to bed.

Bright and early the next morning after breakfast we raised our anchor and headed off into the canal. It was just before the current changed direction, we were hoping that a favorable current would give us a quick trip. We decided to sail straight to Atlantic City. It was a glorious sunny day and there was a promise of a favorable wind and a fast transit. We left and headed down the canal on a slowly increasing current until we were doing almost eight knots by the time we exited the canal. We headed down the Delaware Bay and continued to make good time as the current was with us and the tide was going out. The wind held between 15 and 25 knots during the whole day and we moved along very quickly; by 6pm we were rounding Cape May. We went through a narrow channel close to shore which increased the current and we squirted out into the Atlantic Ocean doing 9 to 10.5 knots!

Shortly after rounding Cape May and heading north we encountered our first major squall. We dropped all sails except for the stay sail and just in time! The wind and rain hit us like it was a brick wall – visibility was reduced to less than a hundred yards as the rain pounded us. It felt like someone was throwing stones at us. Lightning, wind howling and gusts up to 45 knots pummeled us for about a half hour and then as quickly as it arrived it was gone. The wind dropped down to 10 to 12 knots and we raised the sails and continued on our way. With the threat of another storm coming we decided it would be prudent to increase our speed by motoring as our speed under sail had dropped to under 4 knots with the passage of the storm.

With the motor running our speed was between 5 and 6, and we made good progress but not quite enough to outrun the next storm. We made it to the North part of the storm which was a lot weaker. We took the main down and before the storm hit we rolled up the Yankee. Winds were only 25 to 30 knots so it was quite manageable but after two bouts of pouring rain we were both quite cold. The rain cleared off about an hour before we pulled into port and we managed to safely negotiate the entrance into our anchorage. We dropped anchor and went to sleep, exhausted.

We didn’t get up until almost 10 a.m. the next morning. After breakfast we took Windsor to the beach and let him run and play in the sand off leash. He had a great time; we walked the beach and met and spoke to a few people and then headed back to the boat, then went in to shore with Heike and Herwig and walked around looking for a small grocery store. It turned out that we ended up in “the hood” with no real grocery in sight, so we slowly made our way back to a restaurant near the docks where we had dinner, a few drinks and some appetizers before heading back to the boat and enjoying a show and going to bed. We motored in to shore the next day and got a good cup of coffee from the Golden Nugget and then proceeded to do our laundry. It was very chilly but nice and sunny.

After finishing a laundry we headed back to the boat and said goodbye to our friends who were leaving on their boat for New York. Then we motored over to the fuel dock, filled up, topped off the water tanks and anchored just outside the Golden Nugget. We went in for showers and then went for a nice dinner at one of the restaurants in the casino and after supper enjoyed some dancing to one of the bands playing in the casino before heading back to the boat for the night. Tomorrow we leave for Block Island.


Skidding Past Norfolk

We left on Monday and motored north up the ICW in 15 to 25 knots. We made an easy six to seven knots without much tide help. As we progressed up and the tide started coming in it helped our speed even more. We had decided to take the ICW because there were bad storms predicted for the area for the next 4 days and we did not want to be stuck 50 miles from shore in bad weather around Cape Hatteras. You have to get that far from shore to be in water more than 15 ft deep!

Once we got to the canal we slowed dramatically – there was a counter-current of between 2 and 3 knots. Even with a 20 knot wind we were only moving three to four knots instead of 7 to 8. When we came out of the Adams River Inlet onto the Neuse River we passed a power boat in distress. We quickly dropped our sails and turned around to help them; thankfully they had just run out of gas. We hailed the Coast Guard and they called a tow boat and once we confirmed their location and that they were not in danger, we pushed on. The winds came up into the 20 to 25 knot range. We were on a deep broad reach headed down the river between 7 and 8 knots, a good sailing day. Waves were only 2 to 3 feet and were giving us a nice push.

At sunset we decided to start the motor so we could head into our planned anchorage and lo and behold – the motor would not start! When we turned the key there was no electric to the engine. We hastily changed plans and picked another anchorage that was sheltered from the wind yet easy to sail in and out of. We executed a perfect anchorage under sail, then posted some questions about our problem on Facebook and turned in for the night. Next morning there were a number of suggestions to try and as luck would have it, the first thing we did was check the fuse on the engine – one of the suggestions – and that was the problem! Once replaced we hauled anchor and decided to try and sail instead of motoring up the canal but there was no wind. Reluctantly we turned on the motor, hoisted the sails for any help they could give us and motored up the ICW.

With the sails and the motor running we were able to make good time. The area around the canals  was heavily forested and while transiting we encountered a swarm of horse flies which attacked us relentlessly for about an hour. We finally exited the canal to cross the Pamlico River and there we were attacked by a huge swarm of small flying ants! It took us a little longer to get those under control because they were literally hundreds of them all over us, the boat and the dog. When we finally wrestled that under control the wind came up a little bit and helped to push the bugs away and we had a brief respite.

The wind held for most of the day and we were able to make some significant mileage. We dropped anchor in the Alligator River around 7 pm. We both took hot showers and had a nice dinner before turning in. Next morning we awoke and our boat was covered in dragonflies AND we had a small green frog and a grasshopper that had moved aboard during the night. We have no idea where they all came from; we don’t know whether they came with us or climbed on board during the night. We did establish that the frog could climb vertical surfaces so I am thinking he came out of the water to find a place to rest to while we were in bed. We started early, we were on the road by 6:45 a.m. headed north towards Norfolk. It was cloudy, the winds were light and they only gave us a small boost with the sails so it looked like we would be motoring all day long again.


Visiting tree frog

Shortly after we left the anchorage it started to drizzle. It was comfortably warm but the drizzle was the first rain that we had experienced in a long time, possibly months. We managed to dodge the rain all day until we pull in pulled into Coinjock. We stopped there for ice and to pick up a little something to eat. It poured. We left in the rain and by the time we got to our chosen anchorage spot the rain had thankfully stopped. We anchored just north of Coinjock off the small town of Currituck, watched a show and went to bed.

The next morning started off not so well. During my morning check of the strainer and the cooling system, I forgot to turn on the raw water system for the engine before starting and it burned out the raw water impeller. So instead of starting at 6:30 in the morning, I had to replace the impeller and we weren’t on the road until 7:30 p.m. It was a nice 10 to 15 knots, but with 60 miles to go we decided to motor sail and were able to make a good 6 to 6.5 knots with the wind and the engine. We joined a parade of seven other sailboats, most of them motor sailing, and headed north towards Norfolk. After crossing Albermarle Sound, we motored up the North River and into the Chesapeake canal.

The canal wound its way in a long straight line through heavily forested areas, passed a Jet Fuel Depot for Oceana naval air station, under a few bridges and then we stopped in the rain waiting for a bridge to lift. After motoring through there we made it up into Norfolk and motored past the naval shipyards and the Navy Docks and it was there that our luck finally ran out. We had been dodging rain all day. When it was coming towards us we would motor out of its way, when another storm came we would change course and narrowly escape its wrath. In Norfolk however it caught up to us and we were subjected to blinding rain and 30 knot winds for about 45 minutes. We both got quite cold but we slogged our way through, and eventually arrived at our marina in Bay Point. We spent the next few days shopping; groceries, West Marine Etc and then visited Robin and David and went out to dinner with them in Virginia Beach. On Monday Melanie went and spent the day with Robin while I installed our new V-berth hatch. We had it shipped to the marina and it was waiting for us when we arrived here.

Tuesday morning we left in a light wind and motored over to Hampton where we anchored in the Hampton river. We met up with Heike and Herwig again and walked around the old historic part of town before stopping for a drink and then heading back to the boat. There were storms all around us, but for the most part they missed us and it never rained until after we had gone to bed.

Next morning we packed a picnic lunch, borrowed bikes from the marina and went over to Fort Monroe. It was nice and windy and sunny so we thought it would be a good time to leave the boat open without the risk of it getting rained on. The museum was fascinating, and the fort itself is quite interesting. The barracks have all been converted into apartments and homes and people actually live there. It was like riding around a university campus.

Next day we headed over to the Air and Space Museum, a short block from our anchorage. We spent about 4 hours exploring and truly could have spent far more time there but felt it necessary to leave so that we could water the dog. That evening we headed over to a bar in the hotel and listened to some wonderful jazz and partook in a wine tasting, then went and met Heike and Herwing for a drink.

On Friday my parents came to visit and we had a wonderful time with them. We spent some time on the boat eating snacks and chatting, then went to a late lunch, after which they left to try and avoid the horrible traffic that starts in the late afternoon in this area. We took a short nap, then met our German friends for some appetizers and drinks. Tomorrow we head North into the Chesapeake…

Heading North…

After returning to the boat from a huge breakfast, Melanie proceeded to take a nap while I worked. That evening we met our friends Jane & Bryce and went out with them to dinner and then took a walk around the pedestrian part of old town St Augustine. We had a nice evening before heading back to pick up Windsor for a little land time. There were street performers all over; the most interesting one we found was a violin player that had custom built, foot operated synthesizer that played piano chords! We stayed and listened for a half hour or so and chatted with her – fascinating lady. Then we headed back to the boat for an episode of “Death in Paradise” and bed. We slept hard – we didn’t wake until 9:30 the next morning!

Friday we slept in to recover from the previous night’s lack of sleep. After work we walked to the grocery store and along the way met our friends Jane and Bryce. We walked together till they reached their bus stop and then we continued on, headed towards Winn-Dixie. On our way we went past a store that was a bathing store all decorated in pink, called Antoinette’s – it was the cutest thing you had ever seen, so we had to get pictures of it. We also came across a farmers market and ended up buying all kinds of fruit and vegetables there, then made our way towards Winn-Dixie and found a health food store much like Raisin Rack in Columbus. We were thrilled! We ended up buying most of our stuff there, then ate lunch there and caught an Uber back to the Marina. The driver was a former Marine and we had a great discussion with him and got some pointers on places to go in the city.

Next morning we went to shore and took a train tour which took you around and showed you most of the major sites. We toured the old fort, walked through town and just enjoyed ourselves in general, meeting and talking with a few people along the way as well. We met a gentleman who was the manager of a small specialty store and he had two Burmese pythons. Melanie got to hold and pet one. There were people in the fort dressed up in colonial garb and in the evening they marched down through the old town to the governor’s house where they performed a 21 gun salute before marching back to the fort . We returned back to the boat after finding a small pizza place that actually had gluten free pizza. We ate there and had mussels for appetizers and then came back and tried to watch a show but we both fell asleep halfway through it.

Sunday morning we went in for coffee and went to the Catholic Church on the main city square. It was quite beautiful inside. The church was built in 1565 and recently underwent extensive renovations. It was quite a sight to behold. We returned back to the boat and Melanie made us a good salad with some of the veggies that we had scored from the market and then we headed into shore to take Windsor for a walk. We found a cute store that had a lot of dish towels with wine sayings on it. We ended up having a good laugh over some of the phrases. They were quite funny and we ended up buying a bunch of them for friends. We walked the neighborhood just north of Flagler College to see some of the old churches. The Baptist Church was built with bricks made of yellow clay that was quite spectacular, we also saw the memorial Chapel Flagler built for his wife who died in childbirth.

That evening Melanie started to experience severe back pain; it was clear we needed a chiropractor. We found one on Monday morning, scheduled a visit and then went to shore and walked the half mile or so to his office. He worked on her back for a bit and we left with her feeling much better. Next few days we fell into a schedule; me working in the morning and then heading into shore and walking until sunset. Tuesday we were able to pick up a mooring ball again, so we motored through the bridge and tied up before heading in to shore to do some clothes shopping. I had 2 pairs of shorts pretty much fall apart on me in a week due to overuse, so we found a thrift store and I bought myself a few replacements, then we walked to West Marine to purchase a new handheld radio to replace the one that died and stopped for a snack at a Tex-Mex restaurant before heading back to the boat. Melanie made a creole sauce for dinner and we had that over noodles with ocean shrimp – 10 of them made up a pound! Largest shrimp I have ever seen and they were GOOD. The creole sauce was simply smashing! We rounded out the day with a show on Netflix before heading to bed.

Next day we went in and did the usual wandering around, primarily for Windsor to get his exercise and for us to find things to do when our friends visited. We had heard about an Irish place that served good fish and chips from a fellow cruiser, so we searched it out and found it to be just as advertised; food made the old English way, good portions and plenty of malt vinegar to round the meal off. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

After work the next day we did laundry and started to prepare the boat for a weekend visit by Jeff and his girlfriend Marie. We ended up walking around the old town and landed at the pizza place we had been to a few days prior. We just ordered drinks and mussels – they were very good. We headed back and watched a show before hitting the hay.

We finished laundry on Friday morning and then prepped. When its just the two of us we tend to sprawl our things out, so we had to tidy up so our guests wouldn’t feel like they were living out of our clothes closet! After a little house cleaning and putting away the laundry, we were ready.

Jeff and Marie arrived around 6 p.m. on Friday evening, we went out to dinner at OC White’s across the road from the marina and walked around exploring the old Town before heading back to the boat and doing a little bit of drinking and socializing. We stayed up pretty late, it was after 1 a.m. before we all went to bed. Next morning after a hearty breakfast of omelettes with fried tomatoes, we took the one and a half mile walk to the St. Augustine lighthouse. We explored the grounds and took turns climbing the 219 steps to the top. The views were spectacular! Florida is so flat that you can really see for miles and miles from that height.

By the time we were all done exploring we were beat and we ended up getting an Uber back to the marina. We motored back to the boat and then enjoyed a nice happy hour aboard before heading ashore for dinner. We ate at Pizza Alley, and enjoyed some gluten free pizza and a few drinks. We then wandered around looking for a good ice cream store, before settling on some gelato from Kilwins .

We stopped and listened to the violinist we had met previously. The piano she played with her feet was comprised of three large calculator sized pads and when she touched the center of each button it would play a chord;  touching the outside of the button would play individual notes that were part of the chord. It was quite an amazing contraption, something she actually designed and built.

Next day Jeff and Marie headed back to Tampa, we said our goodbyes and then came back to the boat and did laundry and cleaned up in preparation for departure. We went to shore and ate dinner after going to the pirate Museum. We found another Irish pub, the second one we have been to and I had shepherd’s pie and Melanie had bangers and mash. We rounded it off with Irish cream, homemade by the restaurant.

We awoke early the next morning and motored into the marina to refuel and fill our water tanks. Then for the last time we headed through the Bridge of Lions and motored out of the St. Augustine Inlet and up the ICW towards Jacksonville. It was very windy, and we ended up using the staysail in order to make way. We had issues with the engine overheating, but with our large box fan blowing on the motor we were able to cool down the motor enough to enable us to reach Jacksonville safely. The ICW wound through the swamps north of st. Augustine and then through an area of large mansions, all with built-in docks on the outskirts of Jacksonville.

We entered the St Johns River around 3, anchored and watched the boat traffic until sunset before watching a movie and then going to bed. We woke quite early the next morning, hauled up at the anchor and then started to motor out of the St Johns River. We picked the worst time to leave. The tide was coming in and there was a two and a half to three knot current against us all the way out. Even with the staysail up we were only able to make 2 to 2.5 knots. It took almost 3 hours to go 5 miles out of the channel and into the ocean.

We raised the rest of the sails and pointed the boat towards Charleston. Of course the forecast was wrong, winds were predicted to be East at 10 to 15, they were Northeast at 5 to 10. This put us quite a ways off course, and to make matters worse the wind slowly died during the day. We started the motor reluctantly and after running it for about a half hour we realized that we had some sort of a leak in the engine. There was water coming out of the heat exchanger, it was cooling water for the engine, so we had to turn off the motor, and I headed down below to see if I could fix the problem. There was a leak, one of the two mountings had worn through and made a small hole in the heat exchanger. Luckily we had bought something called fiberfix , it is a resin infused tape that you soak in water and then wrap around the broken pipe, in this case the heat exchanger. It hardened in 10 minutes to a waterproof finish that was stronger than metal. We effected repairs and it worked. Note to self, order two or three more of these as they work extremely well! While I was working on the engine, the wind came up so we did not need the engine beyond testing it to see that the leak was fixed. We sailed the rest of the day and slowly, ever so slowly the wind started to move around from the Northeast to the east.  I took the first watch and Melanie went below at 7 to try and get some rest. The seas were calm so we were hoping that each one of us would be able to get a good night’s sleep. The winds were not strong so the 160 mile trip was going to take a good 2 days! Hard to believe when we were able to do 150 miles in 20 hours not too long ago.

I watched the sun set as a flock of terns circled the boat and fished for dinner. It seemed as though they were following us! There was also some tuna feeding on a school of small fish. I saw them jump out of the water a few times in their effort the to grab the tiny minnows. The Sun slowly set below the horizon, it was uneventful as the sky was completely devoid of clouds. It was a full moon over the weekend, so it helped us to be able to see a little better but it drowned out all but the brightest of stars. Of course with the sunset, the wind pooped. We were finally moving along at about 4 Knots with an apparent knot or so of current against us, but the wind dropped from a solid 13 to 15 down to 8 to 10. This slowed us down and really made us want to motor. But we had decided that we would not run the motor at night so that the off watch person could sleep a little better. The wind finally switched to the Southeast, so we were able to aim directly for Charleston and sail on a close reach towards our destination. With the wind more on the beam we were able to make better speed and our speed went from the upper twos to the mid to upper threes, even though the apparent wind dropped to 7 knots.

When Jupiter rose in the East, it actually reflected off the water much like the moon does when it is up. It helped to light the sky until the moon slowly crawled up above the horizon over the Gulf stream clouds. It started off as a dim orange ball, slowly becoming brighter and changing to white as lifted higher above the horizon. The ocean almost looked red where the moon rose, and it stayed that way until the moon rose higher in the sky and then the pathway to our boat changed to a silvery white.

We were now able to sail straight towards our destination, but the wind had dropped down to 7 and we made slow progress between 3 and 4 knots; waves would shake the wind out of the sails and even though they were not big waves, bad timing caused them to really slow us down quite a bit. Melanie came up for her shift at midnight. She said she could not sleep, I was exhausted so I went down below and tried to to sleep in the V berth. The sails would slam back and forth whenever a large wave came by and our progress was painfully slow. I felt like I got no sleep all but Melanie said she heard me snoring so I guess I did.

I awoke at quarter till 6 and we were still 104 mi from our destination! We had only done 56 mi in 20 hours! Melanie went down below to try and get some rest and I reluctantly turned on the motor. The sea was calm; there was no wind on the water and every once in a while a small swell would shake what little wind we had out of the sails and our speed would drop below 2 knots. With the motor running we were able to increase that to between 4 and 5. We were definitely fighting some sort of counter current. Then to make matters worse, instead of southeast winds the wind changed until it was coming directly from our intended destination, Northeast. With the motor running, we started to chew up some miles and by 8 a.m. We were under 100 mi to our destination which gave us a little encouragement. Forecasted winds for the day were 10 to 15 out of the southeast, and they gradually filled in and by 9 am there were cats paws on the water, but we only got about a 1/2 knot of help.

As I looked out over the calm sea with a few clouds to the east helping to frame the Sun and surrounded by a gently undulating ocean, it was hard to see myself anywhere else. It will be difficult to leave this and return to a shore based life. There is such beauty and simplicity in God’s creation, as complex as it is, the sights are truly wondrous and the way it sustains itself in spite of us humans is nothing less than a miracle. The might, the beauty, the grace of nature is truly astounding.

As the Wind filled in our speed slowly increased until we were flirting with five knots! The miles started to click off a little faster and we felt encouraged that we were finally making some decent progress. I think that our first day out was probably the worst day mileage-wise that we have had this entire trip. We only did 60 in one day! The motor seemed to be functioning well, the Flex fix did the job and we were back in business, I checked the motor every half hour or so to see if it was leaking and it appeared as though things were back and 100% again. We felt good about motoring without worrying about whether the engine would overheat.

The water had changed color too; no more midnight electric blues or turquoise, it was now a deep dark blue green. Melanie woke after a short nap and we ate breakfast and then set up the fishing equipment. It was a glorious sunny day with not much wind so we decided to troll behind the boat and see if we could catch anything. We were in international waters so no license required. We set two squid lures and let the line out 50 to 60 feet from the back of the boat in accordance with a fishing technique I had read up on. Of course the first 10 minutes or so nothing happened and then a pod of dolphins came in. We quickly reeled in and waited for them to leave before we set it again. They were just passing through, they checked us out and then moved on.

We tried for an hour or so and caught nothing but a balloon which we fished out of the ocean with a boat book. Eventually we packed up so that Melanie could rest up for her watch. We decided that I would be first and take the later watch and she would do the first watch before midnight.

Melanie made us a quick dinner and then at sunset I went to below to sleep. Jupiter and Venus were both up in the sky and cast enough light that it reflected off the water and made golden paths towards our boat. After an hour or so the wind came up enough that we could turn off the motor and for a short while we were able sail in peace and quiet. That did not last; within an hour it was back on again because the wind had died completely. It did finally switch to the southeast late in the evening and when I came up on watch we turned off the motor so we could slow down and enter the port during the day. We were on a deep broad reach and under sail alone made about 3 knots with six knots of wind.

That did not last long, because after an hour or so later the wind died completely and we ended up having to motor the rest of the way into Charleston. We arrived around 8 in the morning and after anchoring went to bed and took a long nap. After we woke up we took the dinghy over to Waterfront Park and took a walk around town. We walked up past the Old Market and ate at Bubba Gump’s shrimp, then walked back and stopped to do some wine tasting before coming back to the boat and watching a movie.

Next morning we headed into the marina, and it was quite a place. A resort, 3 swimming pools, hot tub, restaurants, Tiki Bar, we didn’t know where to start. Once we were tied up we took a walk around the grounds and went to the tiki bar for an early lunch. We met a very cute older couple from Charleston and arranged to get together later. We went over in the afternoon and explored the naval museum, a submarine, destroyer and an aircraft carrier. Then we returned and invited Dick and Peggy to the boat for evening drinks. We went back ashore after sunset, ate a light dinner and listened to a Grateful Dead cover band before turning in for the night.

Saturday Melanie did grocery shopping and then we met Dick and Peggy for lunch at one of the restaurants in the resort. We had a nice time with them and then came back and picked up Windsor and went out for a few drinks. In the late afternoon we went to Fort Sumter on the ferry and toured the museum there before coming back and having dinner with Dick and Peggy. Afterwards we decided that we needed to soak away the days aches and pains in the hot tub. We met a nice couple from Virginia named Charlie and his wife Gwen and chatted to them for quite a while before turning it.

Sunday we listened to a sermon, then prepared the dinghy for travel. We took the motor off, cleaned it, then washed the dinghy, washed the boat and by then we were sunburned and exhausted. We went to the bar and met our boat neighbor Alistair and his wife and a few other cruisers for a few drinks before coming back and putting on our bathing suits and heading back to the hot tub for a relaxing evening where we ended up chatting with Gwen and Charlie until midnight.

Monday we lazed around and then went to Red’s Ice House for dinner. We had a really good dinner, reasonably priced, then returned back to the resort and went to the hot tub where we met a family and chatted for a while before coming home and watching some Netflix.

We left early Tuesday morning and motored the ICW because the wind was unfavorable, straight in our face and on top of that it was supposed to die during the day. We thought motoring would get us there quickly and it did. The wind did not die, it stayed up all day but we made good progress through the swamps which gradually turned into forests and around Sunset we arrive in Winyah Bay where we anchored behind an island just off the waterway. We watched a few Netflix shows and then went to bed. The current in the bay was quite strong and held our boat very still during the night and we slept well. After breakfast the next morning we pulled anchor and headed toward Georgetown. It was only 6 miles away but it took us almost 3 hours to get there! The current was so strong that even with the stay sail up, we could only manage two and a half to three knots at best. Once checked in we explored town, ate dinner and then returned back to the boat for the evening.

While walking back to the boat we met and started talking to a couple on a powerboat. As it turned out they were docked just two slips down from us at Charleston! It’s funny how we are starting to run into people in different places that we have already met before.

Next day we spent the afternoon with friends from our home church. Jim and Maureen Sharp retired recently and moved down to a small town about a half hour away from Georgetown. They met us for lunch, and afterwards we came back to the boat and spent some time in fellowship. We saw our first alligator on the way back from the restaurant. It hung out underneath the boardwalk because people in the restaurants feed it. It was a small one, relatively harmless but an alligator nevertheless. I did not realize that they went this far north into South Carolina.

It was a wonderful afternoon and it was so good to see them both. They looked healthy and are obviously enjoying their well-deserved retirement. We took Windsor for a long walk after they left and then had a few light appetizers for dinner before returning and starting on the second season of Broadchurch. It was recommended to us by people we met in Charleston and it is a spellbinding show. Highly recommended.

We woke up early on Friday and went into town for a good cup of coffee before dropping the lines and heading out of Georgetown. It was a wonderful stay and we will definitely be back. We motored down the river, leaving around 9:30 to take full advantage of the outgoing tide. Even with no wind, we were easily able to make between 6 1/2 and 7 knots. It was a quick trip out to the ocean, but it appeared from the lack of wind that it was going to be a long long sail to Morehead City. We raised our sails but ended up motor sailing all day. The wind eventually picked up and we were able to do between 5.5 and 6.5 knots with the motor running. We tried turning off the motor and our speed dropped down to three, so reluctantly we fired her up again and continued on.

We set a line once we got out about 15 miles to see if we could catch anything. It was the second time we had tried to fish and this time we got lucky! We reeled in a 7 lb Barracuda, and after he had died I filleted him, and we had delicious fresh Barracuda steaks for dinner. We are thoroughly spoiled and it will be hard now to go and eat fish in a restaurant when you know that it is days old instead of hours old.

After sunset, Melanie went to bed and I took first watch. Jupiter showed in the east and Venus in the West – they shone so brightly that their light reflected off the ocean and made pathways to our boat. It took a good hour for it to get completely dark but once it was, the Stars put on a fabulous display.

We headed towards Cape Fear, and after rounding the it turned slightly to the north and headed to Morehead City. Around 1:30 Melanie came on watch and I went down below to try and sleep. We were rolling a little, just enough to make it uncomfortable to try and sleep, and the noise from the engine didn’t help either. The wind eventually died and switched around to the west and progress was painfully slow. The waves were shaking the wind out of the sails and that hurt our speed. By 8 in the morning we were down to 45 miles; the wind was light to non existent and there was a clear sky. We continue to push on hoping that the wind would come up and help a little. It didn’t, but we were able to average 5 knots motor sailing towards our destination.

The wind gradually switched and filled in a little until we were able to make 6 knots with the engine. We passed a huge turtle, the first one we’ve actually seen close up, and he never even tried to go down and escape from us; he just laid there in the water and watched us. We arrived in Morehead City around 6, right in the middle of rush hour. There was an incoming tide so we were doing about 7 while heading in, boats were zooming by on all sides turning the water into a washing machine – it was crazy! Non stop for about an hour – we FINALLY made it into the inner harbor and anchored just South of Sugarloaf Island where we met up with our German friends we spent Christmas with in West Palm. We had dinner with them and caught up on each other’s adventures before turning in for the night.

After breakfast we hauled anchor and headed in to the docks to refuel and spend a night – Mother’s day and our anniversary beckoned, so we will stay ashore and go out for a special dinner this evening before heading out tomorrow up the ICW towards Norfolk. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!


Key West and Onwards

We spent a few days enjoying the food, drinks and people as well as shopping for supplies and gifts for the grand kids. At one of the happy hours there was a person selling parasail rides and we both decided that would be a fun thing to do. Having watched people do it for weeks, we both decided that it should be a bucket list item.


Sunset the day before parasailing

We went out early in the morning on their first run of the day. There were only 4 of us on the first trip; two young girls from London, England and the two of us. It was strange to be out on a powerboat doing 40mph, bouncing roughly across the water. Sailing is so much smoother! The sky was clear and there was a gentle southerly wind blowing. We put on our harnesses and attached them to the parachute, and once we lifted off the noisy powerboat things became quiet and we floated gently up to around 300 feet in the air, the only sound being the breeze blowing through our hair. Turquoise water spread out in front of us and the town of Key West shimmered in the waters to our left. We decided that we will have to do this again once we get to Put-in-Bay. The views were spectacular! After 10 minutes or so we were slowly winched in and just like that we were on the boat again. What an experience!

We had signed up on Facebook for a Key West Cruiser group. We met the lady in charge while doing our laundry one day and decided to sign up so we could swap information and meet a few of the adventurers like us. They had a get together at one of the local happy hours and we attended and met a lot of cruising people. We had a nice time and made a few new friends.

Our friends Jane and Bryce who we had met in St Pete arrived in Key West on Tuesday, so we met them and a few of their friends on Wednesday evening for dinner. There was a couple they had met in Mobile that drove down to spend a few days with them and then there was a couple from Somerset Ohio who had launched their Seaward 26 in Fort Myers and sailed down to Key West following Jane and Bryce. They were a very nice couple, and we will be getting together with him once we return home to Ohio.

We also met a Swedish couple, Bjorn and Annika who arrived Thursday from Panama and anchored near us. We got together on their boat with them on Friday evening. They were a very nice couple and very well-traveled, they have over 100,000 miles of sailing experience all over the world including the Antarctic! We chatted about our adventures and thoroughly enjoyed swapping stories of our travels. I got some very good ideas for sailing our boat downwind under rolly conditions and how to make the ride more comfortable. We also spoke at great length about tuning the boat as well so that our upwind performance improves. We are excited about trying these things out.

We went with our Swedish friends to the grocery store and showed them the bus routes so they could do shopping for provisions. Then we agreed that we would get together for happy hour and watch the sunset. Saturday we finally finished our shopping for the kids and decided that we would leave next week when favorable winds arrive. We had a final get together with them on our boat on Saturday evening. They left late Sunday headed towards Key Largo. It was a perfect day with warm temperatures and gentle winds. We came in and took a shower and then headed back to the boat to watch sunset.

Annika had an extensive collection of movies on a hard drive, and she downloaded them for us and we gave her some music in exchange. We hoped to find some things worth watching, and we did. It was nice to see some new movies instead of continually recycling our old stuff. The next few days were spent relaxing, walking everyday and shopping for the kids. On Easter Sunday we went to St Mary’s Catholic Church. It was a beautiful building and the service was quite nice.


St Mary’s on Easter Sunday

We were both getting itchy and felt the need to leave. Besides that the weather was starting to get more humid and hotter, so we decided that the next favorable wind direction for us would result in our departure. We scheduled a hull cleaning because after me cleaning it in the Tortugas, we now had a seaweed Factory attached to the waterline after just a week! It’s definitely warming up and it’s amazing how fast the life grows.

Bjorn gave us a rigging manual which explained how to tune our rigging so that the sailing upwind more efficient. We spent an afternoon tuning the rigging in preparation for our departure. While cleaning the nav station, I found a business card from Phil Amsterdam; he owns the Curry Mansion in Key West. We got in touch with him and he invited us over for drinks one evening. I met him in Alexandria Bay and he took us on a tour of his home there. This mansion was just as historic. Lots of beautiful antiques, some over a hundred years old. We enjoyed our time with him and then headed off to Harpoon Harry’s for a turkey dinner. We decided to leave on Friday after the bottom was cleaned. We have what looks like a coral reef growing underneath our boat, and as the water warms things started growing more quickly. We never really had trouble with it until now.

Thursday evening we got a call from Melanie’s brother informing us that her mother had passed. This came as quite a shock as she was in pretty good health when we saw her in November and we had just spoken to her a few weeks prior on her birthday. A sobering reminder that life goes on no matter what.

Friday was departure day; we left Key West after having our hull scraped by a diver – “Sir Mike”. He did a good job and we were shocked as to the amount of crud that came off. We pulled anchor, motored in and fueled up along with pumping out our holding tank and filling the water tanks, then headed South past the cruise ships in the harbor, raised sail and turned eastward. We got a late start; the diver was not done until almost 3pm, so we only sailed about 10 miles and around sunset came into an anchorage in the lee of Saddlebunch Key. It was very remote and sheltered, yet the highway was only a half mile away by water. The sun set and we were treated to a fabulous display of stars; the Milky Way was in top form.

We arrived on an outgoing tide, and by the time I had all the little jobs done involved with setting the anchor and prepping for the night it was dark. A school of luminescent jellyfish floated by on the outgoing tide and we were treated to a half hour or so of flashing lights in the water as they drifted by, quite a show. Our anchorage was very sheltered and we enjoyed a calm evening and a good night’s sleep. Early in the morning the wind shifted and swung around to the South making the anchorage a little less comfortable, so we hauled the hook and motored out, hoisted sail and turned east towards our next destination; Marathon. The wind was 15 to 20 knots and we enjoyed a fast sail down the keys, and with a following swell our speeds were above 6 most of the time. We arrived at Coco Plum Beach inlet in the late afternoon, and after dropping anchor, we took the dinghy in to shore and enjoyed a nice late lunch with a bottle of wine, then took a walk to let Windsor stretch his legs before heading back around sunset to go to bed.

Our plan was to head to Key Largo, but the next morning we had a good wind from the South and decided to sail all the way to West Palm. We made good time up the keys with a following swell. As we turned further North, the wind dropped a little and once under 10 knots, we raised the spinnaker and used that to help maintain our speed. We jumped from 4 to 6 knots and sailed over a beautiful turquoise sea; we could see the bottom the water was so clear. Our shadow swept along the bottom jumping over sand, weeds and coral heads as we headed past Islamorada, then Plantation Key and finally Key Largo.

The spinnaker helped us make good time, and the wind gradually switched more to the South until we were flying the spinnaker on one side and the main on the other so they did not get in each other’s way. As the day progressed we realized we would not make it all the way out of the Hawk Channel before sunset, so we made a turn to the east to head out into deeper water and that is where our “fun” started. The apparent wind increased to 12-15 knots; too much for the spinnaker and it shredded! Tore into strips. Now we had sail cloth flogging all over the place trying to tangle itself up as best it could in everything; forestay, wrap around the mainsail, tangle in the shrouds; everywhere! We turned the boat so the wind was coming from behind and I wrestled the shreds behind the main and hauled the sad remains down. Our speed dropped, so we unrolled the jib and then headed east and picked our way through the coral heads out to deeper water.

Once out into the deeper water we felt our speed increasing as we picked up some help from the Gulf Stream. The water changed color from tropical turquoise to an inky midnight blue, quite beautiful. We were sailing along at speeds of 7 to 9 knots with winds around 7 knots, something unheard of in our boat. We sailed past the lights of Miami and watched the lights from planes lining up to land at both Miami and Ft Lauderdale. We scooted up the coast with a gentle following swell and winds that fluctuated between 3 and 10 knots. Our speed would drop to 3, then up to 8, then down to 4, then up to 7 – yoyo-ing around but making good progress nevertheless. The wind fizzled almost completely at sunrise, but our speed still stayed above 3 – I loved the help we were getting from the Gulf Stream! Around 10am Monday, the wind came back up to 15 knots and we squirted into the Lake Worth Inlet at 6 to 7 knots before dropping our sails and anchoring close to the spot we left in early January. The anchorage was quite crowded, there were a good 10 boats there. We headed into shore and went to the Tiki bar where we met up with some of the folks we had befriended during our last visit.

We spent a few days with me working and then us walking at Peanut Island. Each day would start out clear and then cloud over and storm before clearing up around dusk. On Wednesday a vicious line of storms came ripping through the area in the late afternoon. I ran into shore just ahead of the rain to buy ice and returned to the boat, hauled the dinghy out of the water and then the rain began. 40-50 knot winds and blinding rain flayed the boat for about an hour and then it was over and the sun peeked out – we made it through another storm without dragging and our neighbors did as well.

We decided to make a jump to Charleston on Friday, 360 miles, so we planned to head in to the marina to resupply on Thursday. We came into the dock early on Thursday morning, tied up and went for a cup of coffee to see Beethoven, a small business man we met in December. He was not there but we had a nice conversation with his wife, then stopped by the tiki bar for lunch and headed back to the boat so I could work. After work we went to Publix to grocery shop and then came back and packed everything away and got the boat ready for the trip Friday. While on the dock we stopped to talk to a couple who were having danger signs posted on their boat. We found out that they had gotten a rat infestation on their boat while at the dock! They must have left the boat open with no one on board, and then while they were gone the rats moved on board. They fought it for 5 weeks before calling an exterminator to bomb their boat. $1,400! And to add insult to injury, they had to leave the boat for 3 days while the boat was sealed completely and then flooded with toxic gas. Who knows if they will find the body, hopefully they will before it starts to rot and stink the boat up. Thoughts of rats boarding the boat had never crossed our minds before. And then to make matters worse we were talking to another lady on the dock and she said she had seen them running around on the dock, and when they saw people they would duck under and hide underneath the docks near the conduits. We were now totally paranoid!

We left in the morning after saying our goodbyes, and headed out of the channel into a 20 knot wind. Waves were funneling down the channel making for quite a rough ride out. To top that off we had a cruise ship trying to get in to port! We unfurled the staysail and used it to motor sail and tack our way out of the channel. Once clear we set sail for Charleston and made quite good way. We headed in a close-hauled direction about 45 degrees away from the coast until we were about 8 miles out and could feel the Gulf Stream starting to carry us. Then we headed due north and made our way along at quite a clip. The coast turns North West after West Palm, so it slowly slipped further away from us until we were almost 30 miles from shore.

Speeds from 8 to 11 knots with a 15 to 20 not breeze from the beam made for quick progress. We were visited in the afternoon by a pod of dolphins and they played for a good half-hour in our wake which amused Windsor no end. There were 4 or 5 babies in the pod and their mothers swam close by their sides as they zipped around and surfed our wake and the waves around us. We were concerned about Windsor’s health because he had not eaten or drunk for almost 24 hours. We realized as it got dark that two more days of that would make him a sick puppy, so we decided to head for Cape Canaveral.

We turned West and our speed immediately dropped from 9 to 5 knots, and once out of the Gulf Stream we slowed down even more. After sunset we saw bioluminescence in the water, our wake twinkled with little lights. Melanie went below to sleep while I took first watch and after an hour or so she came back up because she was queasy from the rocking and rolling around. To counteract the current we had to point almost 30 degrees off of our intended heading in order to make way in the direction that we wanted! It was a long slow sail back to Cape Canaveral, and when we arrived, it was 4 a.m. in the morning. We tied up to a free wall and slept until 10.

We picked up a dock at one of the marinas, floating docks because the others had poles and short piers and we swore we would never do that again. It was a great facility, and after I registered I went and picked up a rental car and then we drove to the store to replace my phone which accidentally got stepped on in the dark the night before. Then we drove over to PetSmart and picked up some new dog food for Windsor. We fed him breakfast in the morning of an egg and some doggie cookies and he inhaled them. We think there’s either something wrong with his dog food or he is just tired of it, that plus being seasick. When we got back to the boat we gave him the new food and he scarfed it down. He seemed very happy, so we think that we are okay and are going to head off to St Augustine. Melanie made ceviche for us for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. We then went and watched the launch of a rocket from Cape Canaveral from the second floor of the marina building. It was a great view and we really enjoyed hanging out with the locals and watching the launch. It was over all too quickly. We headed back to the boat and watched a show before retiring and sleeping like babies.

We decided to try and leave the next day and headed down the channel past the cruise ships to the entrance of the harbor. Winds were over 25 knots, but we were not sure about sea conditions. Once clear of the harbor we quickly realized that although the waves and wind would be from behind, the road would be ROUGH! We were hit by a few 7 ft breaking waves and were immediately soaked. Discretion took over and we both agreed this would not be fun and we headed back to the dock. Winds screeched all day until the front came through and brought with it heavy rain and thunderstorms. By sunset it was all over and we had a calm night.

We left the dock on Monday to anchor just East of the Canaveral lock to watch the launch. Our spot had an unobstructed view over water of the site so were were excited to be able to see yet another rocket go up. They scrubbed around an hour before the launch so we missed out – bummer. Next day we awoke to a temp of 50! It was cold! The wind had moderated from the 20s down to 10-15, and the skies had cleared so it warmed gradually through the day, but never made it much past the mid 60s. A week ago we were complaining about it being too hot and humid; now we are too cold?? This has been a crazy weather year thus far.

Dolphins came around the boat today during the afternoon, swimming in very dirty brown water looking for fish, and Windsor was just beside himself, barking until he was almost hoarse – he gets so excited when he sees them – we thought he was going to try and jump in! They also played a little, jumping a splashing a few times which added to the hilarity; I’ll bet they were around for a good 2 hours! Poor Windsor was exhausted when they left.

Late in the afternoon we lowered the dinghy and rode over to a small island that was close to our anchor spot. We let Windsor run around there and he loved it, no leash and free to explore wherever – smelling and running around like the crazy boy he is. Then around sunset we motored through the lock and tied up on the free wall in Canaveral Harbor where we spent the night and then left early the next morning, motoring out into a very calm and flat sea. There were almost no waves and certainly no wind! So we motored with the sails up to catch any help we could. It gave us about a knot of extra speed, but for most of the day it was too light to sail without the motor. We motored past Cape Canaveral and saw the launch pad loaded with the rocket being launched later that day. The skies were clear and it was warm; the swells were only about a foot so it was an easy ride. We saw a few dolphins and seabirds, but not much sea life. Quite a few sailboats were headed in the same direction, it seemed like everyone was headed north. Around noon we crossed the 4900 mile mark in our adventure, quite a milestone.

The wind gradually increased during the day and switched to the South until we were on a broad reach. We still had the engine running so we could make 5 to 6 knots during the day. We decided that we would turn the engine off at night so we could sleep and to make sure we did not get to St Augustine in the middle is the night; it has a reputation as a treacherous inlet when the conditions are unsuitable. Around 4 p.m. the wind did come up enough for us to turn off the engine, and soon we were doing 5.5 to 6.5 knots with a following sea of 2 to 3 feet.

We watched the rocket launch and tried to take pictures and video, but it was too far away. We still got to see it go up and it was pretty cool. We watched the sun set and then I took in a reef on the main and we got ready for night watch. I took the first watch and Melanie went below to try and sleep. As with our prior trips the wind was from behind and this created a very uncomfortable rolling motion which made it difficult to get any sort of rest downstairs. We were hoping that the wind would drop off during the night and that the waves would as well so that we could both get reasonable sleep on our watch off. That was not to be, despite the forecast; the wind increased to 15 to 20 (forecast was 6-10) and although the direction was correct, we were going too fast. I rolled in both jibs and pulled the main to the center line while we were on a beam reach, and this slowed us down to between 2 and 4 knots – painfully slow but it ensured that we would not reach the inlet until after sunrise.

Melanie came up for watch at about 12:30 and I came down to sleep – I was freezing – the temperature dropped down to upper 50s, so she stayed up on watch all wrapped in a blanket while being dressed as warm as possible. When the sun came up we were 7 miles from the inlet, and I set the sails so our speed went from 2 to 6.6! We were there in a jiffy, poking our way past the dredger and into the channel where we ran into friends of ours on a mooring ball while waiting for the bridge to open.

We passed through at 9:30, found our mooring ball and then dropped the dinghy to head into shore and register. Melanie got talking to a local whose daughter was a sailor and they recommended a place for breakfast, so we walked over and enjoyed a great spread and then headed back to the boat to catch up on some shut eye – the rolling just stops you from getting good sleep – seems like the last few nights have been that way. But, for now we are safely tied up in St Augustine and will wait here until the next spot of lousy weather passes through before moving on.

Dry Tortugas and Back.

After we had anchored at our favorite spot in Key West, we went into shore and visited with John and Deb Bresnan, our dock mates from Herl’s on Lake Erie where we normally keep our boat. We had a wonderful afternoon, then after they left we went back to the boat, watched a movie and then collapsed into bed. We both slept hard. Neither one of us had gotten a whole lot of rest due to the rolling nature of the trip the night before.

Sunday morning we relaxed on the boat, listen to a sermon then had lunch and came ashore to do laundry. We walked around, then decided to go to the hardware store but it was closed. We went back to the boat and watched the sunset. Monday after work we came into shore, went to the hardware store and to the library so we could print off some new boat cards, then went to the happy hour at the White Tarpon. We had a rotisserie chicken, two orders of potatoes and two drinks each for $20. This is definitely the cheapest place to eat! We came home to the boat and watched the sunset before catching a show and going to bed.

On Wednesday, a cold front came through in mid-afternoon and whipped up an ugly chop. We got soaked heading into shore with the waves against us out of the Southwest, and when we headed back the waves were against us out of the Northwest – the front had passed while we were on land. We were soaked when we got back to the boat. The wind howled all night long, and then another front came through later in the evening. Even though it was out of the northwest we still had waves enough to make it a little uncomfortable in the boat. There was a lot of chop but we were still fairly well protected from the winds as the banks around the Keys are very shallow with waters only 1 to 2 ft deep.

Thursday around noon the clouds from the previous day finally burned off and gave way to sunshine which warmed things up a little. Temps in the morning we’re in the mid-60s but climbed rapidly after the skies cleared. It was a glorious day, special forces paratroopers gave us a show, dropping from planes by parachute onto the island that we were anchored behind. After work we came ashore, took the bus over to the shopping area and picked up a package from UPS. We bought a quart of ice cream and ate it while we waited for the bus home. On the way home we met a couple that were cruising who lived in Indiana. They had a Catalina 47 and we arranged to meet them the following day.

The ride back to the boat was very rough and we both got wet again. During the night the wind changed from the north to the Northwest and howled once again. It was so rough that we felt like we were underway. Eventually in the early morning the wind did switch to the Northeast and East and the waves laid down and we were able to get some sleep. After work in the morning we headed into shore, did the laundry and had a cup of coffee and then went back and visited with our new friends David and Robin on their Catalina. We had a nice time getting to know one another, shared some sailing stories and family stories and then headed back to the boat.They were anchored in the same anchorage field just a little north and west of us. Their boat was larger with a deeper draft and they were not able to get in as close to shore as we were so they were a little less protected from inclement weather.

Next morning after breakfast we raised the anchor, headed in and filled up our gas tank, water tank and pumped out. Then we headed out to the northwest channel towards the Dry Tortugas. We got a late start; the sky was cloudy and the winds were between 10 and 20 knots out of the southeast. This put us on a dead run going up the channel, but once we exited the channel and headed to wards Garden Key in the Tortugas we were a little further off the wind on a broad reach and the ride was a little more comfortable.

The Sun peaked out for a brief while and once we were headed West down the Keys along the banks the water turned to a beautiful greeny turquoise. It was only 20 to 30 feet deep, and you could see where the coral heads were because there were dark spots indicating their presence. We made good time down, motor sailing to ensure that we kept a minimum speed of 5 to 6 knots. We passed by the Marquesas islands shortly after noon, with the wind on a broad reach gently pushing us along. We had a gentle 2 foot swell pushing us towards our destination.

Melanie made us a good lunch, and as we headed past the Marquesas Keys, we saw a shipwrecked sailboat. Half of the mast was sticking out of the water but the hull was completely submerged. In the afternoon the wind increased to 15 and 20 and our speed speed increased from 5.5 up to the upper sixes and low sevens. The sea was still rather choppy with a following component that made us roll quite a bit.

Around sunset the wind died and we had problems with the engine overheating again! We ended up running the inverter with a fan blowing into the engine and we were able to keep it cool enough so the alarm did not go off. It started raining and storming around 7 p.m., and then rained pretty much until we arrived at 10 p.m. We were soaked and exhausted. We anchored on the west side of the island in the shelter of the fort and slept hard. The wind eventually diminished and we were woken by the gentle rocking of a Southerly wind in the morning.

We pulled up the anchor and motored around into the bay, found a good sheltered spot and dropped anchor. We checked in, ate breakfast and watched the animal life. There were frigate birds circling, terns yapping and a giant Goliath grouper took residence up underneath our boat. It was probably a 400 pound fish, huge! The water was crystal clear and in 18 feet of water I could see the anchor in the bottom!

We watched some seaplanes land and bring tourists to the island. They pretty much backed their planes up onto the beach! It was quite a sight. We went to shore, walked around the island looking at the outside of the Fort and then brought Windsor back to the boat. We got our snorkeling stuff and went snorkeling, first on the south side of the island which was very murky, so we went to the north side of the island and that was crystal clear. We saw some wonderful Coral, waving fans of purple, brain Coral, yellow Coral, all kinds of fish and really had a fabulous time.

We explored the pilings along the North end of the island and then went down the north wall of the fort. Fabulous sights and a perfect sunny day, ideal for snorkeling. We walked back afterwards and and on our way talked to one of the pilots of a seaplane. While we were looking at the sea plane we saw two Live conch shells in the water! We put on our snorkeling gear, went out and took a look at them and then saw a starfish out in deeper water around 8 to 10 feet.

We got Windsor and took him over to the north Shore which was absolutely gorgeous. There were Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies, Frigate birds and Pelicans all flying around on the restricted part of the island. It was breeding season and it was a wonderful sight to see so many birds wheeling around in the sky. Sunny, beautiful water and white sand made for a wonderful time, and it was back to the boat for afternoon drinks. Before that I climbed into the water and washed the bottom of the boat off with the scrubbing brush. A huge 5 foot Barracuda came to watch me, but took off when I looked at him. Glad he wasn’t hungry!

We enjoyed lunch on the ferry and then had a drink before it departed. Next day we took in all of the Fort, leaving Windsor on the boat (no pets allowed in the fort). The weather was cloudy, and while we were on the tour it started raining and the rain came down in buckets. There was a blinding thunderstorm with a torrential downpour for about 3 hours. After the tour we ran back to the ferry, had lunch and a drink there and waited for the rain to stop. We met some interesting people on the ferry, one gentleman was a master Mariner on oil tankers and container ships and a sailor to boot.

After the ferry left we returned to Southern Cross for happy hour and prepared the boat for travel the next day. We took the engine off the dinghy and put the boat up in the davits. During the night the wind came up to between 30 and 40 knots. When I woke at 5am in the morning the wind was out of the north at about 35 knots so we decided not to go. We waited another day. We weren’t too sure the ferry would even come but it did. We had a drink and chatted with some of the crew members, getting a good weather forecast from the ferry captain.

During the day the wind did moderate and the seaplanes actually came in. Melanie and I took a walk through the fort and enjoyed the beautiful views from the top level. Then we returned back to the boat after the ferry left. The schooner “When and If” arrived and dropped anchor. We went over and talked to him for a little bit, then headed back to the boat for dinner. We had met some people earlier who were fishing and they caught us some mangrove snapper that we took back to the boat and cooked for dinner. It was delicious! Fresh fish, salad and chocolate for dessert, doesn’t get any better!

On the way back to the boat we passed a Hobie 16 out sailing. One of the park rangers sails and he was out for after work relaxation. Its strange to see something like that 70 miles from civilization. After dinner we went back to the Fort for a lecture about the research being done on sooty terns, it was very interesting. Then we were back to the boat for a nightcap and to bed. It was rather cold; the front that passed dropped the temps into the upper 50s at night, the coldest we have been since arriving in Key West.

Next morning the wind was blowing 20 to 25 from the NNW. After eating we hauled anchor and motored out of the harbor. The waves were 2 to 3 ft, a close sharp chop that made heading directly into them almost impossible with our 20HP engine. A boat ahead of us turned back after fighting the waves for a few minutes. We decided not to attack them directly, but rather at a 45 degree angle using the staysail to help us along. It worked, but tacking out of the funnel shaped harbor entrance took almost an hour.

Once clear we hoisted all sails and headed off on a deep broad reach towards the south end of Rebecca shoals, the tip of the shallower land that holds the Marquesas Islands and Key West. With the shoal between us and the wind our waves went from a choppy 8 ft down to 2-3 ft, much more manageable. We made good time with the following seas, but steering was tough, I ended up driving most of the way because Melanie was as not strong enough and the auto pilot could not handle it either.

Two hours from Key West the winds Increased to 25 to 30 knots, so much for the forecasted drop to 10-15 knots. We were grateful that the wind was still from the beam and not from ahead; that would have been rough and slow going. We pulled into the main harbor just after 7pm, an average speed of close to 7 knots, quite a days run. Everyone in town at Mallory Square got to watch us lower our sails and motor up to our anchorage. We were exhausted, and slept like babies. Now to plan our next stop…


Our sunset after arriving back in Key West