Adventures of Adirondack

Adventures of Adirondack

Saturday, October 27, 2012


First, the Dismal Swamp, a really nifty stretch from Virginia to North Carolina, a route surveyed by George Washington a while ago with a lock at each end. It's a fairly narrow and shallow corridor that many boats can't take due to their height or draft. We had a great time, stopping at the visitor's center for the night. We just can't pass up a free dock. We met some great new friends and pushed off the next day on our southward journey.

We crossed Albermarle Sound early, as this is one of those places on the Intracoastal that can get really mean with the wrong wind. We anchored out in Dowry Creek, a great dark spot to watch the anticipated meteor showers that were supposed to light up the night. I got up at 0400 and can attest the night stayed pretty dark. We got to Oriental, the Sailing Capitol of North Carolina just in time to secure a spot on the free city dock. We made some new trawler friends there on "Clover" and went to Morehead City, where we tied up next to a restaurant ($25 if you eat there. What a bargain.) and waited for Dave and Lisa on Ke 'Ola Kai to roll in. They are 70' tall and too deep to go inside and have to go outside.

We were starting to get some serious reports of a hurricane brewing in the Caribbean, not good for any boat, especially a little one like ours. Back in 2007 when we came this way we had a tropical storm go by us while we were tied up inside next to a restaurant. It sunk four 60' custom aluminum bluewater sailboats. The Coast Guard saved everyone on three of them, but there wasn't a trace of "Flying Colors" or her crew. This is serious stuff and we started to plan for it.

We had already planned to get hauled out and get the bottom repaired after our little running aground incident in Ontario. We also needed a new survey for insurance and new batteries. Thank goodness that grounding stuff is never going to happen again, right? We made reservations to have the work done way up the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC and started up there. We turned off the Intracoastal and proceeded upriver with the tide and promptly ran hard aground, right in the middle of our prescribed channel in two feet of water where all the charts, guidebooks and other sources of this information said there was EIGHT feet of water. As we sat there we watched the locals roar around us on the other side of the greens, where the chart said it was two feet deep. A short time later after we availed ourselves of our towing insurance (the first time ever, really) we were back in business. The tow guy said all the tourists run aground there, but I'm sure he tells that to everyone he tows.

The next day we got hauled out and finally got a good look at what happened when we drove up on that rock in the Trent-Severn Waterway. Actually, not much. It was very difficult to see anything other than scraped bottom paint, but there was apparently some damage to the gelcoat. This is one tough boat. We also got all the batteries replaced, new packing in the stuffing box, the marine survey for the insurance company, a line cutter to take care of any crab or lobster pots we miss and all the anodes checked. We're going to get the valves adjusted, put another filter on the dinghy motor and replace an antenna. And then we are all done working on the boat, forever. Nothing else will ever break or need fixing from now on, really. That's good, because I really don't like working on boats, really.

But back to Sandy, the hurricane, serious stuff, like I said. Down on the coast they are expecting 50 - 70 mph wind, lots of rain and big waves. We elected to stay up on the stands here in the marina parking lot, quite a ways from all the action. I have a rental car, power, water, restrooms, internet, TV and a cat to sit on my lap whenever I leave the boat. Sally went back to Minnesota, though. She's going to a concert tonight, one of David's plays tomorrow and will try to generate some income. I'm going home before Thanksgiving having successfully gotten two great buddies to help me get Adirondack to Jacksonville, where he will wait for us until after the New Year. And then we are off to the Bahamas. Capt. Jeff

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Eight Bells and All's Well

We went to the Annapolis Boat Show last weekend - boat heaven for Capt. Jeff. It is the biggest, in-water boat show in the nation and was very impressive for the number and variety of boats there to explore and all the stuff that goes along with boating. I found my new favorite phone app: a ship's clock free app from Weems & Plath! Now my pocket chimes bells marking each 4 hour span with from one to eight bells. It can even be set to be quiet at night (unlike our clock at home)! It makes me smile every half hour.

We left Annapolis and made it almost all the way down the bay, stopping in Solomons, Maryland, for a much needed marina stop for laundry and groceries. The dock was full of big Krogan trawlers; they had just had a rendezvous at the marina and many were still hanging out there. One of the boats was from Afton, MN - just down the road from our home in Stillwater. At another dock nearby was a sailboat from LaPointe, WI, just across from our home port of Bayfield in the Apostle Islands. The Midwest was well represented.

Laundry was done and all electric items were charged up. The weather report was for a lot of wind and waves, so we stayed put the next day and I had a delightful birthday day: beautiful sunny weather, a great maritime museum, delicious lunch of oysters and some knitting time with my Nova Scotia yarn.

Our oil mishap kept us in Solomons an extra day - which turned out to be a good thing. Our friends on Ke 'Ola Kai came in and reported it was a day of waves and pouring rain as they crossed the Chesapeake, not the kind of day we like to travel in. We were able to clean the engine room, do more laundry (of all our oil spattered clothes) and have dinner with Lisa and Dave! We traveled with them the next day to Deltaville, Virginia to a lovely anchorage. Yesterday we finished the Chesapeake, making it all the way to Norfolk.

This morning we left and headed up the Elizabeth River and into the Dismal Swamp. George Washington helped survey this long ditch, dug by hand to drain a swampy area. We locked through at 11 AM with 13 other boats and had a slow quiet passage 18 miles to the visitor center near the middle. We are tied up at the dock tonight with 8 more boats and will leave early tomorrow to the lock on the southern end then continue down a river to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where we have our absentee ballots to pick up.

Now we are trying to make time going south so that I can get back to MN and then to Vermont and Jeff can have the boat worked on (the keel repaired and batteries replaced). The weather looks good to make some distances in the next week. Sally

More Boats

We left Solomons in a small craft warning, but the winds were supposed to be behind us and we had the advice (Go!) from Dave and Lisa Ke 'Ola Kai, whom we trust implicitly for their opinions in these matters. So after they tested the waters, we followed them out and had a pretty decent run, except for some turbulence at the confluence of the Potomac, but that only lasted for a while. We pulled in to Deltaville, a quiet little spot with all kinds of anchorages. Sally and I were scouting the place out in the dinghy when we found a place that sells ETHANOL-FREE GASOLINE!!!!!! You can't imagine my excitement! I should have taken a photo of the attendant, but I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted me to be around anything flammable had I acted out like that. We haven't found ethanol-free gasoline since Canada, where they are too smart to put this poison in their gas. Apparently the farm lobbyists haven't bought all their legislators, yet.

And if that isn't enough to just jump up and down about, IT'S BEEN THREE DAYS SINCE I HAD TO PUMP UP THE DINGHY!!!! I'm sure I've whined about this before, as I'm not one to suffer in silence about something as important as this. It's been leaking a year and I finally found the hole and patched it. Once again, life is truly worth living.

So today we left Deltaville early to try to catch some of the favorable southbound tide to the mouth of the Chesapeake, but that wasn't to be, although it was dead, flat calm, sunny and a gorgeous day to travel. Sally picked today to test our our electrically heated motorcycle vests, my brilliant replacement for a flybridge enclosure. $160 for the vests vs. $6000 for an enclosure. They aren't perfect, but they help. Can you just see Sally wearing a Harley Davidson vest?

We pulled into Norfolk and saw hardly any warships compared to other times we've been here. I guess they have better places to be. We pulled into a marina and Sally walked over the the Apple doctor to get a cord fixed, so she is truly complete and has no excuse to not be blogging twice a day.

Today we are going down the Dismal Swamp, a canal surveyed through the woods and swamps by George Washington. It's beautiful, narrow, shallow and quite the adventure. There will be photos. Capt. Jeff

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the UGLY

As we were trundling south towards the warmth of Florida and the Bahamas, we discussed our itinerary with Dave and Lisa Ke 'Ola Kai. I like to use people's boat names instead of last names as they are more important. They told us the Annapolis Sailboat Show was over and that the corresponding Powerboat Show was to be held the next weekend. Wow! The biggest powerboat show in the whole US!! And we were just a few miles away! It was preordained by the boat gods for sure. We just had to attend.

We pulled into Spa Creek, tied up to a mooring ball and started to tour Annapolis, a pretty cool town. I found out I could use my impressive West Marine credentials (a business card) to attend the VIP part on Thursday and got in three hours of serous study before Sally and I went together on Friday. It was quite the show, with lots of trawlers to tour, many booths with knowledgeable experts, seminars, new products and more. We were in heaven, and so enthralled with the place we didn't take a single picture. We really didn't find anything there we really wanted to take home, except maybe that 40' $500,000 Greenline Hybrid, that is.

We left and moved down to Solomons, Maryland, a beautiful cruising town on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. This is serious sailboat country with all kinds of boats out there enjoying no wind and a beautiful day. So what's bad and ugly? Well a routine maintenance issue turned against us. I've always done all the oil changing on the boat, after watching someone else do it the first time and paying $140 (and furnishing the oil and filters I might add!). And it's really not that hard. This time it was only a filter change, which isn't much of a project. Easy, anyone can do it, no problem....

We fired up the motor to go and Sally yelled that the oil alarm was going. I told her to turn off the engine, knowing way down deep just what I was about to face in the engine room. The gasket on that filter had failed to seat properly, causing the oil pump to squirt out three gallons of oil all over the engine room in those few seconds! There are about eight separate bilge areas on the boat and three of them were completely contaminated with used motor oil. What an awful mess. We pumped it out as best we could and sopped up the rest with special oil absorbing pads and paper towels. It was pretty much what we really wanted to do. So we are still in Solomons. Capt. Jeff

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bye Bye Lobsters - Hello Crabs!

We are working our way down the East Coast. The water is getting warmer, so the lobster pots are disappearing, but are being replaced by crab pots (which look a lot the same). At Cape May, the southern tip of New Jersey, we had a great afternoon exploring a nature preserve then riding bikes along the Wildwood boardwalk. Most of the boardwalk stores were closed and the many amusement parks along the way were silent. It must be a crowded, noisy place in the summer!

For supper, we ate blue claw crabs at the restaurant at the marina. A tray of crabs was placed in front of us and luckily a woman at the next table saw our confusion (and Jeff's raising of a wooden hammer to hit one) and gave us an inservice on crab consumption. You hold the legs on one side and use a thumb to pry off the carapace, break the body in half, shake out the green stuff, then break apart the base of the legs to get out the meat. The hammer is used only on the claws. By the end of the tray, we had the technique down and were complimented by our instructor that there wasn't much meat in the bowl of discarded shells. Sally

Not always Pina Coladas

So the other day we were pulling away from Chesapeake City, a cute little spot in the middle of the C & D Canal that connects Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay. We anchored there after a bouncy passage up the Delaware after spending some time with Bill and Laura, two nice folks on a cute red American Tug that we met there. A few miles down the road the engine started to starve, a symptom of a clogged fuel filter. Now this engine (recently named "Felix," after my father) has two sets of fuel filters, the primary one that is easily replaceable, and a secondary one that's not. Those who remember our last scuffle with the fuel filter issue will recall that I have lots of experience in replacing the primaries. I knew it was the secondary, mounted on the engine and requiring more sophisticated tactics.

Well it just so happened that my new friend Bill and I had just been discussing this very topic yesterday and he seemed to have some ideas about this. We turned around and went back to see if he really knew what he was talking about. A very short time later we were underway again! Anyone who watched this repair would say he did the whole thing, but I know he couldn't have done it without me, as I knew where the spare filters were stashed.

So down the road we went to Rock Hall, where we tied up to the free city dock. We planned to stay there a day, but got all wrapped up in another repair project. It seems our "Wirie," a miraculous invention that finds wifi miles away from anywhere, had been acting up. I had notified their tech support people, but we hadn't gotten around to implimenting their suggestion, which involved taking down the mast and tightening a connection. We also wanted to wire up the Wirie in a more permanent fashion, as it has become a real asset to our communications. So we dropped the mast and were deep into this when Bill and Laura pulled up and docked behind us. Bill then spent much of the afternoon helping us with the project, finishing just before cocktail time. And now it seems the Wirie works again! Capt. Jeff

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Circle Games - Life is a Carousel

We've completed the Downeast Circle Loop!! We anchored Monday night in a spot behind the Statue of Liberty, in the same place we spent time 5 years ago when we were cruising the Great Loop, so we've officially "crossed our wake." Now we head down the coast!

We had a wonderful time along the New England coast. After leaving Boston, we passed through the Cape Cod Canal and got to New Bedford, MA. They have a wonderful whaling museum and great old downtown. Herman Melville based a scene from Moby Dick on the Sailor's Bethel, a chapel in town.

We were turned back by high winds when we left, so spent an extra day exploring Fairhaven, the town across the river with some amazing architecture, a scrimshaw shop, a great yarn store and a huge West Marine store. We were all happy. 

With the winds and waves still big, we took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard for a day trip. The cruising guide mentioned there was the "Flying Horses" carousel in Oak Bluffs. Peg collects carousel horses and knows so much about them. She managed to arrange a visit to the closed building and a tour with the manager, Robin, who obviously    loves the carousel she cares for.

The next day, the weather gods smiled on us and we headed for Newport, RI. We rode the trolley tour and saw many of the old mansions of the upper crust rich and famous. We were windbound again the next day and walked the Cliff Walk then split up to see the boat restoration school (Jeff) and the National Museum of American Illustration (Sally and Peg). We dinghied back to the boat for lobsters - just missing the rain squall.

New London, CT was the next stop - to pick up some GPS chips for the chart plotter that we had mailed there. The marina was a bit funky and rough around the edges, but the people were great. They were having a get-together / barbeque and we were invited to dinner and good conversation.

The next day we made a long jump to Black Rock Harbor and then were able to get all the way to New York then next morning. We passed all my old places from growing up - Larchmont, New Rochelle, Pelham. Places that I had spent time on Long Island Sound on other boats and with other friends and family. Another circle.

We timed coming into the East River and Hell Gate perfectly - getting a push under the bridges and along the east side of Manhattan with views of the Empire State building and the new World Trade Center. We finally emerged into the Hudson River, crossed to the other side and the protected, free spot behind Lady Liberty.

After dropping off Peg to take the ferry across to Manhattan, we headed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and across to Sandy Hook NJ then down the coast to Manasquam, where we come into the start of the protected, calm Intracoastal Waterway that will take us South. Sally

Safe in Beach Haven

Another interesting day that started out from a quiet anchorage just off the Manasquan Inlet to New Jersey, south of New York City. We ran from an incredible spot behind the Statue of Liberty to Manasquan, outside in the Atlantic Ocean. It wasn't fun, three to four foot waves on the beam until we got to the inlet, which didn't look too tough until we got into it. For the second time in our boating experience on Adirondack, I "gave it all she's got" to get through that outgoing current. We were happy to get on the other side and into Glimmer Glass, a quiet anchorage near there.

We woke to serious fog, and proceeded south in it, using radar and the foghorn. We saw one other boat. We also almost ran into a great big marker in the fog, but we don't want to talk about that today.  Right now we are tied up to the dock in a marina, here because we spent $1000 on fuel. Capt. Jeff

Peg Perspective

From the vee-berth, presently happily occupied by Peg Guilfoyle

We pulled out of New London, CT this morning early, wanting to make some miles downcoast toward our Lady Liberty goal, the free anchorage behind the Statue of liberty.  The day started out gray and cool-to-brisk (translation:  Peg wearing everything she brought with her, plus wind pants borrowed from Sally), but the sun came out in the afternoon and warmed everything up, sufficient to lie on the deck and watch blue sky and clouds over Long Island Sound swing back and forth over the mast.

We saw many monarchs today, fluttering toward the south, flying in some cases into the wind and outpacing the boat.   On the starboard side, over Connecticut, a cloudbank that must have been a hundred miles long, and on the port,  a more mobile sky that formed and shifted as we watched... a rampant horse, an enormous cat face with alert pointed ears,  a Redwall mouse carrying a spear and proceeding toward the continent.   The sea was extraordinarily calm, so much so that its surface could be watched and speculated on.... this dark line approaching is the shadow of a cloud racing over the Sound,  that change in the surface  marks an underwater ledge and change in depth, that buoy marks rocks.  The expanse of water and sky is tremendous and hypnotic;  the wake behind the boat extends forever, with nothing to disturb its perfectly expanding lines.

We were on the water traveling today for five hours or more, right along the edge of the continent, where the undersea geography drops away invisibly beneath the boat. Sunday regattas were off in the distance and we passed the occasional red bell buoy rocking gently. Conversation is desultory, and we touch on oysters, what we remember about American history, Sally's Uncle Ben, plans for tonight and tomorrow, and shipwrecks in the Sound, thinking of the things we are passing over.  3G and Google are employed as tools, but it too fine a day to look at screens, so we mostly concentrate on the sky.  Sally knits... she is working on a beautiful scarf... at one point, she goes below and soon Jeff and I smell brownies baking.  Really!

Right now, in the salon, with a squall approaching,  Jeff and Sally are working out the approach to Hell Gate and the East River in NYC for tomorrow....  samples:  "enter one hour and 45 minutes after high tide at the Battery"   "what about tidal current and tides proper?  much reading of tide tables and perusing reference materials.  "on a seven knot boat, you have an approximately three hour window to make the passage", 
"Let me look at this other source",   "and don't forget that these printed tables do not correct for daylight savings time..the online  tables have been corrected..."  The wireless here is not great, at least so  far, so Jeff is on the laptop, Sally is on the Ipad, and I hear a bit of sprinkling of rain on the hatch.  The squall is arriving but, snug aboard,   we can watch it come, as they do their calculations to prepare for a safe passage tomorrow around what the history books call New Amsterdam.