Saturday, October 30, 2004

Annapolis Boat Show and SSCA GAM

Our first stop in the Chesapeake was the 2004 Nauticat Rally on the river up to Baltimore at a Yacht Club. It was three days of talks, seminars and socializing. We met a number of Nauticat owners we knew from our first Rally in Beaufort, NC before we bought "Scott Free", and met many more. One of the nicest events was touring all the other boats; 33's, 44's and our own 43's.
We had been to the boat show many times in the past but this was our first one on our boat. It is necessary to arrive days or even a week in advance to get a good anchoring spot and unfortunately we came the day before. So we joined many other boats off the Naval Academy in a very exposed anchorage. The SSCA GAM was the next day and our first time there. We met up with our friends from the Maine GAM and had a fun dinner in town - that's Leslie Sturzenberger and myself here.
I hauled Scott up the mast to do some repairs and he took
this photo. He was shaking like a leaf; he's never gotten
used to this. Look how far down I am at the bow and
you'll see why.
The GAM itself was really fun and informative. We met two couples there that would become fast friends. Geoff and Jo on "Sutton Hoo", and Francoise and Roger on "Starship Annie". We ended up eating dinner together that night and then they came over to our boat another night. We really hit it off. Francoise and Roger (below left) cruised with us a number of times in the future - this coming winter/spring in the Bahamas to start. And Geoff and Jo made plans right then and there to accept our invitation to visit us in Vermont that winter. They spent 10 days with us and it was fantastic. This photo of the four of us was taken at Okemo in February, 2005.
The busy scene at the Newport Boat Show
We had a big list of items we wanted to buy at the boat show. It took several days to get through all the vendors and of course, to look at the new boats. Kai and Tula were there from the Nauticat Boatyard in Finland and we were lucky to spend time with Kai going over the design of our boat and construction details. We had some windy wet weather and the efficiency of our anchor was tested and found adequate. Several other boats were not so lucky.
Roger, Heather and Francoise at the SSCA Gam
We love watching the amusing show put on by the departing boats the last night. A line of catamarins did 360 degree circles while exiting the channel to loud applause and cheers. The next day we were off across the bay to do some exploring. We went up the Choptank, visited Cambridge and Oxford, funny to have them near each other in this country, then St. Michaels - not the main entrance but the back
Geoff, Jo, Heather (in uniform) and Scott at Okemo
February 2005
way up the Choptank and San Domingo Creek. "Starship Annie" was there but Francoise was really sick with a flu so we didn't see them.
 During our four days there we weathered a storm with wind in the 40 knot range. It was very protected so we felt quite secure, but were battened down by heavy rain. We tried leaving the Choptank and heading south the next day but were turned back by wind and waves right on the nose. After waiting another night with winds up to 41 knots, it settled down to 33 knots and we were able to make it out of the River. When we turned south it was better and we were able to make it across the Chesapeake to Solomon's. Back creek there was really packed with boats but we managed to find a place to anchor up Mill Creek.

The next day we were off again, across the turbulent Potomic and down to Deltaville. Our six and a half foot depth was iffy for the main entrance so we took the exciting and circuituitus southern entrance to Jackson Creek. We bumped the bottom three times on the way in. The channel comes so close to the beach that we strayed a little too far off. Our adrenaline was racing. Once in it was a lovely spot. We turned right into Northern Creek and anchored off the Deltaville Marina at Jackson Creek. Our friends Lee and Sherry from "Alessto" were there working on their boat. We had them over for drinks.

The next day we borrowed bicycles from the marina and biked into town for lunch and some shopping. After a quiet second night worried about the trip out that channel the next morning, we were lucky to follow close behind another boat and this time had no problems.
Our next stop was Norfork/Portsmouth. We had reservations at a Ocean Marine marina. Coming into these huge and busy city complexes was awe inspiring for us. Our boat was dwarfed by giant freighters and air craft carriers. It was a challenge following the channel and keeping to it's edges. Happily the marina was very nice and we left the next day to fly home for the birth of Josh's second child. That's Arielle finding her thumb and she and Daniel with me at the hospital.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Cape May into the Cheasapeake

This trip turned quickly into a version of HELL. Thousands of flies descended on us as we motored up the river. They turned the deck black. Cries of horror from other boats nearby confirmed that we weren't alone. One man passed us using a leaf blower to try and keep them off the boat. How he happened to have that on board we can't imagine. We used snapping towels to try and kill as many as possible. They were biting too! We closed up the boat as quickly as we could but many had made there way below. A vacum cleaner helped pick up the dead ones below and clean up a little.
No one knew why this was happening and when it might stop. Big logs and debris were also coming down the river so we had to really pay attention.
Russ and Marty Wolf joined us for a long weekend
Our plans had been to anchor just before the C and D Canal for the night but some boats ahead confirmed that the anchorage was still fly ridden. We had put the throttle on high some time before so after some quick calculations we knew how far we could get before dark. Scott called the Schaefer Marina on the other end of the canal and after explaining our situation, asked how late we could dock there. The marvelous man told us he'd try and wait for us until 6:30PM. Thank goodness we have a big engine, because we needed all the speed we could get. Once in the Canal the flies disappeared (although not the ones all over the deck) and it was heaven to reach the dock on time.
Then the Gods smiled upon us!
"We have an all you can eat seafood buffet on tonight at the restaurant. We hope you folks can join us!"
Are you kidding! We were changed and up the dock in record time. It was a FABULOUS meal.
Baltimore Harbor from up on a hill 
We didn't have far to go the next day. Russ and Marty Wolf had arranged to meet us at Havre de Grace and join us for a three day weekend. We picked them up there and Paula joined us for dinner that night.
The next morning we motored up the Sassafras River to Georgetown anchoring at several quiet coves, first Woodland Creek and then Georgetown itself. On the return trip we stayed at Back Creek and Money Creek. Although the water wasn't clear, it felt great for some long swims. We visited the historic Mount Harmon Plantation as well.
Lee and Sherry's Allesto, a Nauticat 33
Unfortunately we had begun to experience some bad vibrations at various speeds and gradually we could only go very slow. Havre de Grace Marina put us up and worked on the engine but the problem was only temporarily solved. It was to plague us for the next FIVE years. Hindsite here.
 My sister Paula lives near here so we spent some fun time with her seeing the local sights and eating nearby.
Scott Free at the dock in Baltimore
We had three pleasant scheduled events ahead of us. The Nauticat Owners's GAM, followed by the Annapolis Boat Show and the SSCA GAM.
The Nauticat Owner's GAM was at the Maryland Yacht Club on Sue Creek on Middle River. This three day event drew owners both on and off their boats from all over the country. We had attended one just after buying our boat the year before in Beaufort, NC. It was a thrill to tie up our "Scott Free" along with her other beautiful siblings. Kai and Tula, designers and owners from the Nauticat Boatyard in Finland were with us for the whole three day event. The last day several of the boats hosted the participants for a sail up to Baltimore harbor. We had 12 on board. Lee and Sherry Hafele on Nauticat 33 "Allesto" seen here above right joined us.
Sunrise heading up the Chesapeake to Annapolis
Ed and Benia on "Sea Angel", a 44', and Jack and Fred from "Denali Rose" were on board with us. We were to see all three couples many times during our cruise ahead. Fred and Jack had a 43' also but the  Ketch version. It was surprisingly different from ours. Our big cockpit is missing due to the second mast. They also have a partition between the salon and the galley - our's is very open. It's really fun to see other Nauticats - you get some great ideas. Touring all of the boats is a highlight of the GAM. Next it was on to the Annapolis Boat Show!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Southward Bound

At our mooring in Mattapoisett  at dawn
On August 22 we left Boston behind and made our second trip through the Cape Cod Canal. We did it at night. I was at the wheel, Scott below sleeping, when I turned the boat around the markers and headed up the channel, looming rock jetties on each side. The bright lights lining the canal blinded me and as I started under the first bridge I suddenly realized a huge tanker was coming right at me. Wow! Did my boat turn on a dime and head for the edge! Luckily it's pretty deep close to.
Schooner on Long Island Sound
We were headed for Mattapoisett again, this time to pick up Sean and friend Caitlin for a cruise. This is a wide pretty bay with free moorings from the boatyard. The next morning we sailed up the south coast of the Cape and flew through Woods Hole Cut. The currents here are extremely strong and it's necessary to plan your passage through here at close to slack tide. We were a little late. There are a lot of channels here near the mouth of the harbor and it was confusing but we made it through.
It's a short sail across to Martha's Vineyard. We moored again in Oak Bluffs. It was more fun this time as we were a bit more experienced. This is a tight harbor with packed in boats.
We rented bikes and explored. Sean and I spent a great vacation here many years ago and one of our fondest memories was jumping off the bridge over an inlet along the beach. We did it again - still fun! Edgartown is a beautiful town with great restaurants and we love walking through the cottage community at Oak Bluffs.
After a few days there, we left and as we did with the Korbeys the year before, we stopped at Tarpaulin Cove in the Elizabeth Islands to swim and eat and then continued to Cuttyhunk Harbor for the night. This has been a favorite place of ours for years.
Scott's Dad Mitchel at home in Conn.
We came here twice on a friend's boat and Scott and James spent a weekend here once fishing. We only had one night as Caitlin needed to get home so we returned to Mattapoisett to let her off. Sean continued with us towards Newport R.I. but we ran into bad weather. The wind was directly in front with gusts up to 30 knots. It was VERY uncomfortable and after hours of crashing into the waves, I suggested we just turn to port and spend another night at Cuttyhunk. Relief! Amazing what a difference it was on a reach with the sails up! It was wonderful to pick up a mooring and relax.
We left early the next day and it was thrill to sail into Newport Harbor! This has always been a favorite place but we've never been on a boat here, let alone our own. Sean took a bus home and after two nights we headed on down the Long Island Sound. We had a reservation at the Noank Yacht Club for ten days. We needed to take Sean up to Dartmouth and get him settled. Scott had some work to do, we wanted to visit Scott's father Mitchell and we needed to close up Vermont.
Clouds building up over Noank
When we arrived at 5 PM, no one knew we were coming. The man Scott talked to during the summer had left and evidently didn't tell anyone. Everyone was so nice. They insisted we tie up to the dock for the night and they'd figure it out. By morning we had a mooring, Paul Taylor's for the next eight nights. We could only get to the mooring at high tide and I think we had little to nothing under us at low tide. Luckily the bottom was mud. During the week a hurricane brushed by off shore and it was really rough. I was on board alone for the day and very nervous. Paul came out with two heavy anchors to reinforce the mooring. We couldn't thank him enough - and he refused any compensation.

We anchored next at N. Fisher's Point, Saybrook on the Connecticut River and then again at Milford. Leslie Smith's college roommate's mother and husband, Mike and Sandy Madigan, invited us to use their mooring at Bell Island, off South Beach, near Norwalk. We ended up staying in their home for two nights. They were great hosts and had a beautiful home there.
Scott and brother Brent at the 79th St. Boathouse mooring
Our last anchorage in Long Island Sound was off City Island. There is a yacht club here although we haven't gone ashore. It is necessary to time your passage down the East River the next morning from the Sound to the Harbor through Hell's Gate. Well named we hear, although we carefully planned our three passages through it (two others the following year) and had no problems. The first part was a peaceful and interesting trip past the Maritime Academy and under the Long Island bridges we'd been over hundreds of times by car. Then the positive current swept us down the river, faster and faster. We were around Hell's Gate bend and in a few minutes the United Nations Building gleamed in the sun - seen here behind me. It was a thrill to see the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges from the underside!
The United Nations building gleaming in the sun on the
East River
Our oldest son Josh lived for many years in a loft on the river, which we saluted as we passed. The current slowed after we went around the tip of Manhattan and we had it against us slightly going up the Hudson. We stayed on a mooring at the 79th Street Boathouse, a few miles up. The currents on the river make it quite challenging at times getting on and off the boat but it's an amazing place. For only $40 a night we were fifty feet from the shore and let's say, 1000 meters from Zabar's Deli. We love New York and this was a thrill. There is even a charming cafe and FREE laundry facilities at the Boathouse!
We left the boat on the mooring for two nights while we visited Brent and Wilma, Scott's brother and his wife. We even participated in a labor rally in Atlantic City with them. He's Chief Counsel for UNITE.
An old boat tries to make way against the current

When we got back we found our dinghy, tied up to the docks, filled with debris and barely floating. There had been a storm during our time away. It was a huge job pulling it up on the dock and cleaning it. Disgusting!!!
We left NYC in the very early morning before dawn. It was a thrill to sail past the Statue of Liberty and out into the crowded harbor, under the Tappan Zee Bridge and out to sea. We planned to visit our friends on "Sea Angel" at Brielle Marine Basin at the Manasquan Inlet for one night. The weather was lovely for a sail down the N.J. coast and the entrance easy into the inlet. Once in we passed under the railroad bridge and docked at the Brielle Marine Basin marina. Ed was there to tie up our lines and take us out to lunch. His wife Benia was unfortunately away.

UNITE protest in Atlantic City, NJ
The next morning we had to leave in the dark. We called the bridge attendant before casting off our lines and waited for the bridge to open. It was pretty frightening for us newbies to navigate out the inlet in the dark - a first, for sure. But we had a long trip ahead of us, down the rest of the NJ coast to Cape May. We wanted to be safely anchored there before dark. We came in through the Inlet from the Atlantic and anchored near the Coast Guard Station.
We could not exit via the Cape May Canal out to the Delaware due to fixed 55' bridges so we made another before dawn exit back out the Inlet and carefully made our way through the complicated channels around the Cape and up the Delaware.