Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Home Again!

We went from Chesapeake City to Sunset Lake, just beyond Cape May, NJ on the ICW. From there we anchored near the east end of Barnegat Bay, but moved to the Metedeconk River the next morning to wait out a northerly which promised to make the trip across to New York City rather miserable. Once we got to New Jersey, The Admiral could smell home and demanded that we get home ASAP! In sections of the New Jersey ICW, we opened her up to 3400 RPM. The GPS picture shows what happens in a relatively calm sea with a good favorable current and a total disregard for fuel efficiency. (Yes, that's knots, not statute miles per hour.)
The last four times we went through New York's East River, we had to go the wrong side of Roosevelt Island so that we couldn't terrorize the United Nations on our 28-foot boat (with the sailboat, this added the complication of an opening bridge along the way). This time they let us go by the UN. I guess the powers-that-be finally realized that the bad guys are angry with the US, not the UN. Maybe one of them even remembered his 4th grade social studies class where he was taught that the UN isn't even technically on US soil! [Have the terrorists won? The major landmarks in Washington, DC are all partially obscured by New Jersey barriers and snow fences. There is a long wait to get into the Air and Space Museum, because everyone has to go through a single metal detector. At the Hirshorn Art Museum, on the other had, there is a guard at a small table who sticks a small wooden baton into purse and backpacks before you can see the artwork. Is an obsolete airplane more valuable than a priceless painting?]We went all the way from the Metedneconk to The Sand Hole on Lloyd's Neck on Long Island.
Long Island Sound was a millpond. But we were in no rush because we had to wait for the tide to come in enough for us to get into our mooring in North Cove, Saybrook.

I even remembered to take the obligatory final picture for anyone who is returning to the Connecticut River after any length of time away.
So, the plan is to stick close to home this summer while The Captain rebuilds the boat to The Admiral's specifications before we head south again: stove with oven, wood floor to replace present carpet, adaptations of various storage areas, etc. We'll take the grandchildren out for a week or so and maybe get as far as Nantucket. (We're still planning on Maine and the Great Lakes at some point in the future.) We'll get our doctors and dentists to try to put our used and abused bodies back together again for another trip. We'll dream about getting to the Bahamas. (This time, we'll try earlier in the season.)

It was a great trip and we both look forward to doing it again. We've still got lots of places we haven't seen or would like to explore more completely.

Allen and Judy
Camano Troll "Sesame"

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


We got to Chesapeake City on an incoming tide, helped by a fairly strong southerly wind and an almost full moon (creating much higher than normal tide). We backed rather nicely into one of the free town slips and walked up to The Tap Room, a very friendly local bar, for beer and our last batch of crabs for this trip. When we got back, it was time for naps. Waking up, we were both a bit disoriented (more than the beer would warrant) and swore that there was a pronounced downhill tilt from the stern to the bow. We were hard aground on a hump of hard sand about one-third of the way from stern of the boat. A few hours later, it was getting rather exciting (we tied the boat off so that it would fall toward the floating dock and not the tall pilings and bulkhead on the other side) and we considered asking the outdoor bar for a percentage of their take since we had become the entertainment for the evening! At 1:00 AM (11 hours after our arrival and less than one-hour before high tide) we powered off the bottom and sneaked out to the anchorage as quietly as we could. No evident damage except to the captain's pride. The Admiral was covered because she probably asked if we had enough water (but she asks that when we anchor in 40 feet of water!). [NOTE: Is it pure coincidence that an American Tug we travelled north with two years ago just came into the anchorage? Her name is "OOOPS".]

We went through Kent Island Narrows on the way north after figuring out that our "engine alternator problem" was caused by the ignition switch not returning to its "default" position after the engine is started. But we had hauled and had a spanking new bottom paint job, new zincs, and unstained topsides. (The yard had a miracle wipe-on hose-off product which instantly removed the brown stains from the ICW cypress swamps.)

The Chesapeake Bay workboats are some of the most beautiful and efficient powerboats anywhere. We haven't yet seen a cruising version which didn't screw up the lines.

Above is what appeared to be a miltary tank which was being tested in the Bay as we went north. At first, we could only see the spray all around it. (The helmsman must navigate electronically since it would be virtually impossible to see through the spray even in fairly calm water.) I'd guess that she was doing 15-20 knots.

Another day in Chesapeake City because of fairly strong winds against opposing current in Delaware Bay, then on to the New Jersey coast and home.

Remember, if you tell anyone about our grounding, we will have to kill you!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Family and Friends

After running hard aground on our way to a fuel dock at The Glebe, at the mouth of the Potomac, we headed up the river to Washington. On the way, we went by Mt. Vernon, but decided to save it for another trip. We had a little nasty weather on the way up, but had made a date to see The Captain's son and his family and didn't want to miss him. (The only times that we have encountered foul weather while underway were when we have had a schedule to keep. As a result, we try to avoid schedules.)

At Washington, we docked at Gangplank Marina for a week. The marina is right in the middle of the city and there are many liveaboards who set off for work every morning in suits and high heels. A number of the slips are filled with houses built on barges (like the one in the picture), but most are normal boats -- trawlers, sail, and regular houseboats. The marina is under the control of a "quasi governmental corporation" which is cleaning up the waterfront and seems to be doing well. There are restaurants along the pier and a large outdoor fish market at the end with all kinds of fin and shell fish -- including blue crabs!

The marina is a couple of blocks from a Metro station and we pretty much figured out the system so that we could get around quite handily. The Metro stations are quite magnificent.

We played tourist all over the place, not having been in DC since we taught in Stevenson, MD many moons ago. We went everywhere by both tour bus and Metro from the Jefferson Memorialo to Arlington Cemetary and many other sights we had never seen before or had seen so long ago that our impending senility had erased them from our failing minds.

But the highlight of the trip was meeting up with Allen's kids and their families:

Bill took us to a neat outdoor restaurant on the river in Georgetown and a quick walking tour. We're sorry that we missed Alison, who was home doing a major project for school, but we got to meet Liz's mother and get caught up with Emily.
A couple of days later, Ginger came with her entire brood. We met husband Dave for the first time and were delighted to see Nina, Sam, Julia, and Zeke as well as Nina's boyfriend. We spent a great day with them all.

On the way back down the river, we stopped to see Judy's sister-in-law and her husband Buddy who have a great house right on the river in Nanjemoy, MD. We also saw two of Paula's three boys and their families. It was a great reunion for everyone with the added attraction of an "All you can eat" crab dinner at a local crabhouse.
On the way out of the Potomac, we stopped at St. Jerome's Creek again to meet up with brother Jock (who we hadn't seen since November) and have a meal with his friends Tim and Jean who are restoring a small motorsailor.
From there we travelled back to the great old-fashioned boat yard in Kent Island where we had our trim tabs installed last fall. We had the boat hauled for a thorough hull cleaning and new bottom paint as well as new zincs. Everything was in very good shape! However, back in the Potomac, the alternator stopped charging the batteries. We were able to make do by running the 110 belt-driven generator off the engine and using it to run the 110 battery charger while we were underway. The boat yard first thought the alternator was bad. (That would have been a GOOD thing because it could have been repaired or replaced.) Unfortunately, a bench test showed that it was OK. So we're back to square one and are looking for the problem so we can continue on our way.
Next stop should be Chesapeake City on the Chesapeake and Deleware Canal. Then off to Cape May and other points in New Jersey, before the jump across to Manhassett Bay or somewhere in Long Island Sound.
In the meantime, we can be emailed at:
Additional photos can be seen at our photo site.

Toward the Chesapeake

After an overnight stop at Tuckaho Point, we had to wait for the Alligator River bridge to open because the fog was too thick for the bridge tender to see whether or not the car traffic had stopped.
We stopped at the free docks at Elizabeth City and walked up to the Rose Buddy party at Fred's fascinating house. Then, a bunch of us went to the dinner/movie theater to see "In the Land of Women" -- not bad for a chick flick.
We led a few trawlers through the Dismal Swamp to the North Carolina Welcome Center free dock and had a potluck dinner ashore with them (Sesame served butter pecan ice cream from her freezer for dessert!). Most of them were "Loopers" (a popular 1-3 year cruise that circumnavigates the Eastern US: along the ICW on the coast, up the Hudson River and the Erie Canal, around the Great Lakes, back down the middle of the country from Chicago, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, down the West Coast of Florida, and then back up the coast). Those who are doing it in one year in slow-moving trawlers always seem to be a a hurry because they have to meet certain weather deadlines along the way.
The dismal Swamp is quite beautiful most of the way and has a fascinating history.
Once through the Swamp ("Swamp" means a wetland where the major flora is trees, such as mangrove or cypress. A "marsh" is full of grasses.) we spent two nights at the Waterside Marina in Norfolk where we window shopped through the huge mall.
The Captain went through the nautical museum and the Battleship Wisconsin.

After the excitement of Norfolk, we were relieved to spend a couple of nights at anchor in quiet creeks before our trip up the Potomac River to Washington D.C.