Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fair Weather Sailors No More

Up at 5:30am for a nice sail 35 mile sail to Reedville. Well, at least we thought so. Prepared to go, left boat at 6:30am to walk dogs, back at 7am, turn engine key, NOTHING! Nigel Calder’s Electrical and Mechanical book indicated engine possibly too cold. Yup, we believe that with temperatures in the 50s and reports of possible 40s. So, we try to warm it up. NOTHING! Ryan replaced the glow plug. Bam - it started. Phew. Thank goodness it wasn’t anything too complicated because there are no marine services in St. Mary’s.

9am pull up to college dock to walk dogs just one more time before take off. 9:30am - Full speed ahead, we can still make it to Reedville before sundown and dinner time for the dogs. Dillon starts staring at his food cabinet around 3:30pm. His tummy knows dinner is served daily at 4pm. He hates to eat late. If not served by 4pm, he begins to frantically pace and then stare us down as if we’ve turned into imbeciles.

Wow, what a day. We’re back to school in St. Mary’s at 3pm. With reports of SW winds 20 knots gusts to 30 with waves 3 feet, we shouldn’t have been so positive about reaching Reedville, south of us. How bad could it be if we motor sailed - we thought? Down right, SLOW! We put in two reefs to be cautious because we were experiencing sustained 25 knot winds with gusts at 30 knots. After turning off the engine, Prudence held strong but wow did those waves spray and drench us. No way were they just 3 feet. At the beginning of the day (maybe), by afternoon, waves were easily 5 feet intermittently. On top of that, we couldn’t tack -well easily.

First time out in winds this strong was a good lesson. I think deep down we knew there was no way Reedville was happening today, but the practice was great. Tide was against us, along with waves and wind from a disadvantageous direction, but we had lots of time to get a feel for how Prudence moves through such weather conditions. Slow, but steady.

In honor of our lost flag at sea, Ryan whistles Taps. Our dear flag originally flown on the Mandy Lee was lost at sea sometime this afternoon most likely in a 29 knot gust.

While our flag is now lost to Davey Jones’ locker, Turlock (our dinghy aptly named after our reading of Mitchener’s, The Chesapeake), is recovering from his rolling, thrashing, and partial submerging all day long.

Our most proud moment of the day was when Sarah and Dillon took it upon themselves to hunker down low on the cockpit floorboards beneath the steering wheel. We began to rest a little easier knowing that they would not likely roll overboard. .

Mandy experienced the sickest moment of the day towards the end of the trip when nature called and could not be held off. Try using a head on a boat when she is getting pummeled with waves and wind while wearing foul weather gear. Before departing the head after a very brief visit, the motion sickness began and stayed for about 30 minutes just long enough for her to actual moan and almost upchuck. She recovered nicely, able to enjoy a pasta dinner with 2 glasses of wine.

29kt winds plus. Pic does not do justice

Flag behind me was lost at sea. :-(
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Mandy taking some time away from the galley

Lovely Prudence sitting in Horseshoe Bay

Homemade Italian bread ala Mandy

Ryan beats the Universal Engine into submission
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

St. Mary's

This city was the original capital of Maryland. Calvert came here along with other Europeans and settled into Native American villages that had been taken causing the evacuation of the entire tribe to the other side of the river. Being that so much colonial history remains here, there are well preserved and well constructed replicas of buildings and even a ship named the Dove. This archaeological site is known as Historic St. Mary’s which we toured, again dogs allowed even on the Dove. Sarah and Dillon jumped on board like they’ve been living on boats their entire lives. I’d definitely recommend the tour to anyone in the area. Even though the cost is $10 per person. That says a lot considering we’re cruising on a budget and only want to spend money on necessity items. Check out their website http://www.stmaryscity.org/ for more detailed information.

Besides being a historical city, the college, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, is also historical in its own right - around since the 17th century. The area and school are known for permitting religious freedom and tolerance in an error when people came here just for that and were still denied the right to believe in whatever they wished. What we found especially relevant to us was the waterfront, not only the free wifi named waterfront, but the long-standing institution of sailing. Apparently, this school is #1 in the nation. It just so happens that while I type this, a regatta is going on. It began around 10am. It’s about 4pm now and still quite a spectacular sight to see. Schools out there include Virginia Tech, Fordham, Georgetown, Navy, St. Mary’s, Howard University, plus a whole lot more.

We arrived here Tuesday and decided to stay through until Monday morning because of predicted rain. Our next stop was to be a state park complete with nature trails. It’s just not enticing to walk along muddy trails with dogs, but this college town has wonderful paths and walkways made of concrete, brick, and gravel - perfect for rainy days.

On Monday, we’ll skip going further up the Potomac River and go further south. It’s COLD! Easily down to 50s at night because it’s only 60 down below at best in the morning. Our sleeping bags originally purchased when we slept upon our Mandy Lee are for weather down to zero so it’s super toasty at night. Throw in two dogs and it’s down right hot!

We hope to hit the ICW by 10/20. A bit early for insurance coverage due to hurricane window but we’ll just watch the weather. Chesapeake is beautiful but we’re itching to see other states and want plenty of time to visit areas like Ocracoke, Wrightsville Beach, Beaufort, Charleston, Savannah, etc.
Sirius music for this spot was reggae.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reflections on Cruisers

About 50% of the cruisers we’ve met thus far are quite interesting people to converse with while the rest are…

Downright strange!

I’m fairly certain cruising the eastern coast of the U.S. lends few opportunities for hunting rhinoceros. Yet, some people coming ashore are decked out in safari gear loaded down as if they’re going on a week-long trek through the desert or jungle.

They remind me of runners; of course, runners in a very loose sense. Yes, they are out running and are sporting the running shorts, tank, and expertly fitted Fleet footwear. However, they are not out to complete a marathon, but that doesn’t deter them from carrying about 1,000 calories worth of bars and liquids on their body.

Granted, when we’re out sailing or if it‘s pouring rain, we don’t always look so spiffy. When we go ashore, we make ourselves look presentable. We do carry a backpack because we have two dogs in tow that need water when it’s hot, but we look more like college kids which I think is a much better fashion statement for the east coast of the U.S.

Currently, we’re in St. Mary’s, a college town. So, our backpack fits in but not necessarily us. We are so young but everyone here is just so much younger and dressed apparently more hip than us. It’s great here. Everyone is energetic and full of high expectations without too many serious commitments to worry about - yet. Ryan and I are enjoying the occasional ease dropping so much that we may just return to college. Then, we too can discuss who is better looking or “I put down 1*10e-9. What did you put?” It’s not all just fun and games here.

If we decide to go back though, it will be to pursue further leisure activities outside the student center in the beautifully brick lined courtyard and discuss philosophy so that we can both be correct all the time. It would just be splendid! Plus, we’d get to ride bikes to class. Ryan misses his road bike.

We can’t wait to meet more cruisers, all kinds.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pasta night with Lindsay

Solomons - great provisioning, projects completed (joker valve), naval air station, people wave to us everywhere, off to St. Mary's, college town, Tuesday a.m.

Met couple, former attorneys, from PA. Did the same thing we're doing when they were our age. Also, met couple from UK about our age who have been out for 5 years alraedy.
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U.S. Coast Guard

Dillon using glock as pillow

Boat w/ 50 caliber mount

Lindsay and Andy
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Solomons, MD

Longest Sea Trip Yet (42.5 miles)

Departed Cambridge, MD around 7am and arrived at the Solomon Islands entrance around 4pm. Our anchoring was slightly delayed by a boarding and not by aliens - the U.S. Coast Guard. How exciting? Very exciting!

They approached our stern and said, “Captain, please throttle down so that we may come aside.” Then, they explained the boarding procedure since we’ve never been boarded. Our barking dogs did not deter them. Once aboard, Sarah and Dillon settled right down in their way. Dillon especially warmed up to one guy, resting his head upon the gun strapped to his leg. Ryan was equally impressed asking questions about their boat and the mount on the bow used to hold a 50 caliber. I don’t know where he learns this terminology. I bet Ryan wishes he could be in the Coast Guard, but I think he’s too old!!!

The Coast Guard was not the only exciting part of the trip. We found fresh veggies and more at Woodburn’s Gourmet Market. The market is stocked like a Whole Foods. All our veg friendly foods even the refrigerated items. We’ve decided to stay through the weekend, keep large quantities of ice, and eat cold food daily. So far, we like the neighborhood and can’t wait to check it out further.

Even better, my cousin Lindsay is about 1 ½ hours away. Third year med student with an exam on Friday but a free weekend. What perfect timing. She will be coming for a visit on Saturday along with her boyfriend. Hopefully, we’ll all have nice weather to stroll around in and hang out on the water.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

open seasame


18th century grapevine

wayward travelers
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Knapps Narrows, Oxford, Cambridge

Knapps Narrows, Tilghman Island
One night stay. Not so bad going through Narrows. However, R4 no good. Kept it to right as indicated on charts; yet, still glided through a 4 foot sand bar. We draw 4’ 11”. Thank goodness for soft gooey sand.

It’s a beautiful town with lots of public access to water views and strolling beaches. Less commercial than Saint Michaels. Guide book stated that anchoring was not wise, but we anchored fine out on The Strand in calm weather. We think maybe some towns have the guide books in their pockets and use them just to promote marinas. Took a self-guided walking tour and found the history of Oxford quite interesting. Saw a cottonmouth snake sunbathing in the rocks and Mandy exclaimed that she’d rather swim in salt water with sharks than fresh water with snakes especially poisonous snakes!

When you can dock at a bulkhead for free for 2 whole days and there is actually space, do not do it. Spent one evening plotting out our escape 40 miles southwest to Solomon Islands. Plan is to depart at sunrise.

Galley Wench Rants 'n Raves

Out on the high seas all is well until galley supplies run low. As galley wench, I must be creative and quite frankly feel like I’m trying to shop out in the middle of the ocean. I’ll begin with my rants since bad news first is always the way I like to take it.

Living in cities like NY and Chicago have spoiled me and made me na├»ve about the availability of veg and ethnic foods. Forget tofu and anything else people out their think is foreign. I can’t find soy milk! St. Michael’s had large containers covered with dust on a tippy top shelf you’d need a ladder to get. After having an employee grab me one, I quickly declined - expiration near. For those who don’t know, that’s just plain weird. Soy in aseptic containers lasts practically forever. We like the little boxes since ice on board is sometimes nonexistent.

Sailboats tend to have the galley somewhat central as is the diesel engine. If we buy blocks of ice prior to a trip that results in no wind and have to run the engine, it melts all the ice.

Now, for other items I’m not used to living without. Fresh fruits and vegetables. I know it’s not the season for leafy greens, but I want them. I’m willing to pay a premium, top dollar! There is just so much I can make with carrots, potatoes, and onions. Sometimes, I find a cucumber or wilted pepper. Lettuce is iceberg and slightly browned. Canned soups work, but we eat Amy’s and are down to 3. Agave nectar and large bottles of extra virgin olive oil are also not staples in every small town. Forget about udon noodles. Bread - we love it but can’t find any veg friendly. I like baking; however, bread recipes usually need soy.

My mom looked up a recipe for me online. It called for coconut water. I actually had that on board care of Annapolis staple still remaining. The Giant by Port Annapolis was easy to shop in. I was last there about 1 month ago. Alright, enough ranting on to raves.

My pressure cooker is awesome. Makes beans and rice in a snap. Can’t believe I ever lived without one. The oven on board works splendidly, bakes evenly. French Press. Best coffee ever. That’s Ryan’s job. Bean soaker canister - leak free so I can soak beans all day while sailing and not a drop spills. Nets Ryan made for me hold produce well when we have them. Stackable camping cookware doesn’t make a peep. Cast iron skillet. I can cook almost anything in there even that upside down peach cake. Eating prepared food in cockpit with a fabulous view - priceless!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Anyone know what this is?
Irish Soda Bread
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Nun 6 Tapped Us
Looked like there was plenty of room
Bennett Point - Not a navigational aid
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Happiness is Dinghying

Sarah & Ryan full of glee!

I'm too cool

Who's so cute, me?

Two dogs and a dinghy
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Wye River - Dividing Creek

Left St. Michael's and spent 4 days exploring trails in Wye River. Well, 3 days + 1 day of rain resulting in quick messy walks, naps below, bread baking, and book reading. An all around splendid time. Even the windy storms were exciting, saw 37 knots. Prudence held well.

Wye River is a wonderful place to visit. Natural, protected and full of interesting trails easy enough to walk with dogs. Sarah turned into her old feral self while Dillon cautiously acclimated behind Sarah jumping everytime a blade of grass blew into his leg. Both dogs were distracted by the grasshoppers and crickets.

Things we saw in Wye
3 fox
1 dead snake
2 live long black snakes slithering away from us into the tall grass
1 dead mole
lots of scat (Mandy has been obsessed with photographing scat ever since the National Parks trip we took back in August 2007.)
1 eagle
lots of osprey and vultures
1 falcon - we think
300 year old Holly
soy and corn fields
leaves changing
deer tracks
beautiful trees whose limbs looked like long fingers
berries galore

Saturday 9/12 Pit stop to Oxford - Knapps Narrows Marina
Our first stay in a marina so we could check out Tilghman Island. Oldest skipjack here but away from slip. Took picture of sign. Tilghman...watermen, motor boats, loud trucks, cigar smoke, serene water views on opposite side of marina, good french fries, long hot clean showers, inexpensive, wifi, right next to Knapps Narrows bridge to easy departure to Oxford for a couple of days.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Peach Cake

Upside down peach cake
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St. Mikes

Miles River (off to the Knapps Narrows and then Oxford)

Been here 9 days, time to shove off. Love this anchorage. Perfect for walking dogs, walking us around a pleasant historical/marine town, and a short spit of sandy beach where the dogs like to look for snakes. We’re thankful none were found. Plus, it was Labor Day weekend - great for watching other people anchor and dock from the comfort of our own cockpit.

Memories…all alone in the moonlight
*Sirius station tuned to love, coffee house, margaritaville, and classic vinyl but still can’t seem to get those catchy love songs out of our heads

*Ryan’s dad came to visit our first Monday. It also happened to be the same day port water tank ran dry.

*Wine tasting with dogs inside (very dog friendly) - bought Long Splice

*Playing guitar, quilting, reading, chit-chatting lots of it still but more geared towards boat items in particular that darn head which needs to be used and maintained daily

*Local Brewery beer tasting again inside with dogs especially liked the black cherry - sounds weird but tasty.

*25 cent soda machine

*Browsed $1 library books - Carl Hiassen and James Mitchener

*Farmer’s market

What we learned
*No such thing as a quick run or hop when sailing. Plotted trip down to Lake Worth, Fl (possibly arriving 12/8) where we’ll wait for a crossing to the Bahamas. Mandy now has to stop using phrases like just a run up to Nantucket and a hop over to the Bahamas once back in FL. What a newbie!

*Joker valve needs to be replaced and should definitely be done at dock by Ryan. And no it's not going to be a funny project.

*How to make hush puppies, crepes, and peach cake.

*Starboard water tank leaking - huh - only water tank left which ran dry right after we reanchored Friday. We bought ACME out of water - 4 gallons at a time. Ryan fixed problem with handy y-valve spare onboard.

*Approved for CIGNA personal health insurance - woohoo - quite a savings from COBRA. On to Europe maybe :-)

*McCormick bacon bits are vegan. Ryan is now brushing his teeth with them.

*Laundry takes an entire day.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chesapeake Museum
Big Bird
Our First "Raft Up" Amanda swam all the way there. Dogs and I took the Dinghy
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