Recent Happenings

Just a little catching up with the blog is in order. It’s tough keeping the blog updated when we’re in Annapolis for the summer. It seems, at least to me, that the things we have going on are not going to be of interest to the readers. I’m back at work doing the welding thing and Michele is volunteering all over the place it seems, so interesting subject matter is sparse. But, having said all that, we’re not completely boring and things do happen in the summer worth blogging about. Take the Fourth of July for example. It was our first chance to get off the dock and drop a hook somewhere for more then a couple of hours.

The whole weekend, after reviewing all our weather sources, was going to be dodgy with thunderstorms. We really didn’t care. If you’re in the Chesapeake in the summer and you wait until thunderstorms come out of the weather report you’ll have a long wait to get anywhere. The only day that concerned us was the Fourth of July itself, because we were picking up guests for dinner onboard on that day. We may not mind a little rain, but the guests, well…With that thought in mind, off the dock we pulled. The trip up to the Magothy River was a mixture of sailing, motorsailing and just plain motoring. It seems we’ve lost about a knot of boat speed due to the growth on the bottom. Ahh, life on the Chessie..

Once we entered the Magothy I promptly lost yet another hat. Tried to spin around and retrieve it, but it had sank already. Oh well, we continued on to the anchorage only to find it pretty full. Not wanting to trust the anchoring skills of strangers, especially knowing a storm was coming, we decided to go just a little further up. Turns out this was just as good, if not better, then our normal spot here. Only one other boat was there and the water was quite. Perfect. Later on that evening we found out why the other anchorage was full. The locals put on a fantastic fireworks show that rivaled most of the shows that nearby cities put on! And we had front row seats. Yeah baby…

The next day I put in a little boat work and finally cleaned the ICW moustache off the water line. After that, we rewarded ourselves with a little dinghy ride across the Magothy River to another popular spot to anchor. Turns out this spot, which is in front of Gibson Island, was a little too shallow and a little too young for us. Young, as in we looked like chaperones, so back across the river to El Camino. On Monday, the weather really looked dicey for dinner and a little cruise for our guests who we still had to go and retrieve. As it turned out, the system blew through and we picked up everyone at the fuel dock back at the marina and had a wonderful cruise and dinner.

The last little mini cruise was this Wednesday evening with friends from our cell group from church. It was another one of those days where thunderstorms were in the forecast and from the look of the radar, it was going to be a close call in regards to the storm clearing out before we left. We waited until the last minute to make the decision to go for it. As it turned out, the storm blew through and we had another beautiful cruise. We dropped the hook in Harness Creek, another favorite anchorage of ours, and enjoyed some delicious finger foods and dips before heading back to Liberty Marina.

And that brings us up to date. I’ve finished a few boat projects and I’ll report on those in another post. All in all, it’s been a good summer so far. Now that it’s the middle of July that means one thing, we’re halfway to leaving for the south again!

From the 4th of July..

P1060601The Thomas Shoal Lighthouse. The light was built and placed in service in 1875! Google it and read some interesting history…

The Sandy Point Lighthouse was placed into service in 1883

The Sandy Point Lighthouse was placed into service in 1883

I thought this was a cool view of the Bay Bridge. Notice the left tower has clouds dropping down on it.

I thought this was a cool view of the Bay Bridge. Notice the left tower has clouds dropping down on it.

Our anchorage at Magothy River..

Our anchorage at Magothy River..

One of the houses we spotted on our dinghy tour...

One of the houses we spotted on our dinghy tour…

We love how this horse farm looks. It's right by the anchorage..

We love how this horse farm looks. It’s right by the anchorage..

Pics from the cell group mini cruise….

Michelle, Amber and Paul

Michelle, Amber and Paul

Bob, Madeline and Donna our cell group hostess..

Bob, Madeline and Donna our cell group hostess..

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From around the marina…

Crab feast at Sail Away Catamaran's office!

Crab feast at Sail Away Catamaran’s office!

Catamaran row at dusk...

Catamaran row at dusk…

Rainbow after the storm...

Rainbow after the storm…

 

Until then..

 

 

That Dirty Four Letter Word

The word? WORK, what word were you thinking?? After arriving back in Annapolis we sat on the hook for a couple of weeks mellowing out and trying to decide where to stay for the summer. We really like staying at the Maryland Yacht Club, but since we’re not members, they have limited our stay to two months a year. So, with that information in hand, we are staying at Liberty Marina in Edgewater for most of the summer and then two months before we head south again, we’ll move to the Yacht Club. The good thing about Liberty is the location. Everything is close by and easy to get to. The bad part is the marina is not protected from the wakes of passing boats. At times you can really get tossed around by inconsiderate boaters leaving large wakes. The good thing about the Yacht Club is the water is perfectly still and quite. Bad part is it’s a little out of the way to get to anywhere.

Back to that word, work. Yep, since we’re not independently wealthy we do have to work and earn money to keep doing what we’re doing. I’ve gone back to work for the summer doing the welding thing and also brokering catamarans with Sail Away Catamarans here in Edgewater. Michele is taking continuing education classes that support her degree in Recreational Therapy. The big news is that I took the Coast Guard’s Captain’s license course and passed. As part of the application process I also had to take a Red Cross first aid and CPR course, I took an Assistance Towing course to add to the license, had to get a Transportation Workers Identification Card, do a DOT physical and be DOT drug tested. It was a lot of work, but I’ll end up with a 100 Ton Near Coastal license.

And, of course, there’s always boat projects to keep us busy. The list is always changing but never ending. The latest semi-major project was refinishing the cockpit table and the teak grates that lead into the salon as well as the grates we stand on at the helm. Why has it taken four years to get around to this? I may be a whiz with metal, but when it comes to anything wood, I get a little lost. So, I just put it off until the “timing” was right. Michele “let” me know that the timing was perfect right now, so below are pics of the finished table and grates. I think they came out ok for a rookie.

P1060537 P1060536 P1060535You can see that there was a lot of old varnish on the table and it looked pretty bad.

P1060538All sanded and ready for new varnish.

P1060542 P1060541I still have a few more coats to go, but the improvement is dramatic. Best part is I get to add some Brownie points up with Michele. I’m almost out of the hole…:)

P1060540The before pic of the grate at the helm…

P1060543And the after picture. Much better…

Until then……….

The Bottom of the Bay

The Chesapeake Bay that is. What a difference today and yesterday were compared to the three days before that. Crossed the Pamlico Sound in 30 knots of wind right on the nose. The only way to get across halfway smoothly was to tack across the ICW. This brought all the action to the forward quarters and eliminated the pounding. The spray was still constant, however, and stung the exposed parts of your face. The next day was more of the same except across the Albemarle Sound. Currituck Sound was the last sound to cross and the only real problem was the lack of water. The tide here has no effect on water levels, however, the wind can blow the water in or out thus affecting the levels. With the NE wind that had been blowing for days, the water was blown out, leaving many shallow spots.

There were times when there was only a foot of water under the boat. The tugs pushing barges really had it hard through this section. They were basically pushing mud and doing at the most 2 knots. Most of those days I had been leapfrogging with Xanadu and Providence, two other sailboats headed north. This made things a little easier being able to talk and warn each other of problem areas ahead. The last anchorage before heading into Great Bridge was not viable so Xanadu and I just pulled off the channel and dropped the hook. I was so looking forward to the next day because Michele would be joining me for the rest of the trip!

So todays short run of 22 miles brings us to Old Point Comfort, right at the mouth of the Bay. It looks like we have two good weather days to travel up the Bay, meaning no north winds, before we may have to wait a day or two in Solomon Island. Heading north up the Bay in a strong north wind would be brutal, so we just don’t do it.

zanadu headed for the anchorage at Pungo Creek

Xanadu headed for the anchorage at Pungo Creek

The beginning of the Alligator River Canal. A 21 mile canal connecting the Pungo to the Alligator River

The beginning of the Alligator River Canal. A 21 mile canal connecting the Pungo to the Alligator River

Following Providence through the Alligator River bridge before heading to that night's anchorage.

Following Providence through the Alligator River bridge before heading to that night’s anchorage.

Waiting for the Great Bridge to open. Right after the bridge you enter the Great Bridge Lock. Michele has now joined me for the rest of the trip!

Waiting for the Great Bridge to open. Right after the bridge you enter the Great Bridge Lock. Michele has now joined me for the rest of the trip!

Entering the lock at Great Bridge.

Entering the lock at Great Bridge.

At the free dock at Great Bridge, we saw old friends Gary and Janie onboard Dream Catcher, a lagoon 410 also. The last time we saw them was in Lake Worth, Florida for Thanksgiving on their boat.

At the free dock at Great Bridge, we saw old friends Gary and Janie onboard Dream Catcher, a lagoon 410 also. The last time we saw them was in Lake Worth, Florida for Thanksgiving on their boat.

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Here they ate tearing down the old lift bridge and have constructed a high rise bridge in it's place. Notice how large the chucks of bridge are!

Here they ate tearing down the old lift bridge and have constructed a high rise bridge in it’s place. Notice how large the chucks of bridge are!

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This hospital ship Comfort, used to be docked in the Baltimore Inner Harbor before it moved to Norfolk. The ship goes where needed in case of natural disaster. I believe the crew is all volunteer. I know the doctors are.

This hospital ship Comfort, used to be docked in the Baltimore Inner Harbor before it moved to Norfolk. The ship goes where needed in case of natural disaster. I believe the crew is all volunteer. I know the doctors are.

 

Until then….

Two Words….Cold….Windy

This has been the coldest, windiest season so far since we started cruising. Even in the Keys it was cold and rainy a majority of the days we were there. Coming up from the Keys to Myrtle Beach was brutally cold. And now, on the way back to Annapolis, cold again. The air temp may be 55 degrees, but the wind blowing at 20 knots or so really brings the wind chill factor into play.

Anchored last night in Mile Hammock Bay, which is a part of Camp Lejeune military base. The anchorage there is well protected and popular. I did have a little drama this morning trying to raise the hook. I got the anchor up to just below the water line and let it hang there in the water. It’s normally covered in mud and if we let it drag in the water a little bit as we’re leaving, it cleans off the mud. Only problem this time the boat wouldn’t move. I tried backing up, going forward and spinning in place to try and figure out what the heck was holding me back. Nothing worked. Finally, I went forward again to check things out one last time and bingo, there it was. I had picked up a large mooring line that wrapped itself around the anchor. I didn’t see it when I raised the anchor because remember the anchor was still slightly under water. After dislodging the line and a breath of relief El Camino was free.

Todays run was again cold, windy and against the current the whole way to the anchorage here at Cedar Creek. All in all, a good day and the hook is down. Hopefully not stuck to another hidden line!

Cape Fear River Light House

Cape Fear River Light House

And yet another sunk boat that wasn't there on the way down.

And yet another sunk boat that wasn’t there on the way down.

This is something I've never noticed before. Crabbers storing their pots on shore.

This is something I’ve never noticed before. Crabbers storing their pots on shore.

These guys are hand dredging for clams.

These guys are hand dredging for clams.

The next couple of pictures show the Boogie Board Michele got me for my birthday. I’ve been looking for something besides a note pad to write notes down and keep them close at hand when traveling. With the Boogie Board you write your notes and when you’re finished with them you just press a button and boom, they’re erased. Cool huh?

In the first picture you can see my bridge list for the days run. The large number under the bridge is the ICW Mile Marker. The small number is the distance of that bridge from the anchorage that morning. The round circle is a clock face. The small line on the clock face tells me when the bridge opens. So, if the line is at the top of the clock, this means the bridge opens on the hour at the top of the hour. If the bridge opens on request then I write OR inside the clock. The circle with C13 in it means this bridge responds on VHF channel 13. The last entry is the days anchorage. All this saves a lot of time because you don’t have to constantly refer the a guide book.

The Boogie Board

The Boogie Board

Mounted with small piece of velcro

Mounted with small piece of Velcro

 

Until then…