Adventures of Adirondack

Adventures of Adirondack

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Medical update

After a little heart issue in Norfolk, where I ended up in the ER after Sally flew home, David and I brought Adirondack down the coast to Charleston, where he is parked at the St' John's Marina there. This is a delightful spot to stay. leave the boat or spend the winter.

The folks at the Sentara Leigh hospital recommended I go home and see my own cardiologist, though. And....

I'm having a battery of tests done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on 12/3, most of which I just had done either here or while I was in Norfolk last month, but I will have already been on Medicare for three whole days! I will have a consult with the Mayo cardiologist on Tuesday after he goes over all this, but my cardiologist wants me to hold out for a Dr. Hartzell Schaff, who he thinks is just about the best in the world at this kind of (s). He would do the job on Christmas Eve and I might be there for a week or so. So how about that for some happy holidays!! There's just no place I would rather spend time with friends and family.....
The good news is that I dropped 55# before all this, brought my blood pressure down to a somewhat normal number and have been on a steady walking program, all of which makes me a much better candidate for this procedure.

More to follow, especially if I can get this thing to post photos!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Crew change, moving again

And still no photos. It still won't let me post them. And I have some dandies.

Peg took off on the train to catch her return flight at Baltimore, while Sally and I puttered around the boat in preparation for her flight from Norfolk back to MSP. We missed her right away. We had all attended a Cruiser's Snowbird Rendezvous there at Hampton which turned out to be quite the gala affair, with lots of seminars, free food and interesting people. Sally got a ride from some Monk owners we met the last time we were here who just happened to be cruising the docks and saw her on the boat. They volunteered to give her a ride under the tunnel to the airport, which was a really big favor. While she was negotiating that, I was trying to figure out a yard that would haul Adirondack and give him a couple coats of new bottom paint.

After she left by car at 0600, I traversed the bottom of Chesapeake Bay to get to Cobb's Marina in Norfolk for that work, which turned out to be only about three miles from the airport. And it was rough, with 3 - 5' waves on the beam and stuff flying all about for an hour. I really missed her during that, although I'm sure she didn't feel the same. After he was hauled out, we didn't find any other problems that needed attention. This is often not the case in the cruising lifestyle, I can tell you. Our boat has been sooo good to us, lately!

So today I'm thinking about waxing about half of the hull and saving the rest for David, who arrives on Tuesday to accompany me south to Charleston where we are parking Adirondack until the end of January or so. And then we don't know where we will go. I'm hoping to fire up "TrawlerTime," a charter business which will focus on the East Coast and the Bahamas. If I get a couple charters to the Bahamas???  We'll see.

Meanwhile I'm puttering on the boat, broken up by lots of walks and biking. For the record, Norfolk is one of the worst places in the US I've ever biked in. Few bike lanes, bad sidewalks, inconsiderate drivers, few curb cuts, leave your bike at home.

Off to Wesr Marine!

Capt. jeff

Rain and sunshine with Peg on the Chesapeake

And afetr that, we picked up our good friend and very able cruiser, Peg Guilfoile. Here's her spin on what happened next! I carefull edited this by adding a couple carriage returns. I have lots of photos of these places, but for some reason this blog ill not accept them any more....

"Adirondack 2013...Baltimore to Hampton Virginia
Rain in Baltimore.  A stubborn insistence on public transportation means a grand total of $1.60 in train fare into town from the airport, and connecting with something mysteriously called the Charm City Circulator, and that is free.  Sally finds me under an awning on AliceAnne Street and it turns out that Fells Point is just my favorite kind of urban neighborhood.  A leftover from an earlier century, brick streets, winding and responsive to the flow and necessities of the harbor.  Narrow.  Row houses with flat fronts, larger structures that once were warehouses servicing the old pier, with a building that must have been enormous in its day, that had a ballroom on its top floor.  Tremendous warehouse space in the middle, tattered enclosure to its lasting large bones, flanked by the remains of what must have been merchant offices or city customs, with tremendous iron columns flanking the doors. battered oversized lamps on top.  Ethnic community traces everywhere,  fish market with round-eyed fish peering up from their ice beds, and, tucked away on Shakespeare Street,  a tiny enclosure remnant of a graveyard that apparently still holds a few Fells of Fells Point.
Drizzling turns to spitting turns to steady rain.  A good town for umbrellas, many bright and patterned.  We are docked on the free dock, on the old waterfront, right in the middle of the neighborhood, across the harbor from a huge tanker called The Last Tycoon.  It must be a good town, too, for naming boats.  The water taxi fleet,  ordinary, open to the rain, seats all wet,  are called  Insatiable, Indomitable, Indefatigable, Endeavour, Alacrity, and Celerity. I love this.
Tucked up in my berth after a long talky dinner, rain on the hatches.  I don't need to be out in the streets of Fells Point to know that they are wet and dark,  gritty,  haunted by a few hundred years of former occupants, bustling, crowding, hustling, building a city and a country along the way.  This neighborhood was annexed by Baltimore in 1775.  Its blocks of buildings, which, southern-style, enclose interior courtyards that can be glimpsed down narrow alleys behind iron grilles.  Present-day doors are set into openings that once admitted horses and wagons laden with goods.  The sidewalks are made even more narrow by cellar doors that extend toward the street, where goods entered the warehouses.  'Twas a metropolis in its day and an attentive ear could still hear drays and wagons clopping around on business business business, the American elbow-to-elbow business of building a city and a life.  And it still is framed by the mighty harbor,  indomitable, indefatigable, and a mighty city, insatiable, and full of alacrity.

Day 2..
Pouring rain on Friday morning, making an excellent time for lingering in berth.  In the morning, we walked over to the Inner Harbor, built up and shiny and huge, with public institutions of various sorts and also a very cool-looking set of dragonboats for rent.  But it was wet wet wet, so eventually we made our way to Whole Foods, indulging in a crab cake sandwich to share, and back to Adirondack to drop off provisions.   I found a walking tour online... the Food Tour at Fells Point... which rendezvoused at the North Market, the 'oldest continuously operating public market in the US', there since the 1700s.   Things I learned... these brick streets are not brick, but Belgian block, which came over as ballast in shipholds over the centuries;  when the ships arrived and filled up with cargo for European ports, they no longer needed the ballast, which the enterprising colonists used to pave their streets. Our food guide James, authentically charming,  ushered us through five stops of eating while expounding on the pleasures and interests of Fells Point.   A Polish cafe called Ze Mean Bean, entirely empty, which offers a pierogi happy hour with unlimited pierogi for 25 cents.  Sauerkraut was best.  Sally and I split a krupnik... which was vodka spiced with cinnamon and honey, poured into a glass of Polish lemonade.   Fantastic.
Next stop was Hungry Andy's, a dive-y spot where we sampled pit beef sandwiches, with red onion and horseradish.  Then Tapas Aleda, where James once worked as a server, with excellent red sangria, special meatballs and spicy potatoes with cheese.   We loved One-Eyed Mike's, a pub-ish grand spot with walls and walls of glass cases of individual members' bottles of Grand Marnier, glowing warmly in the light.  We slipped through the bar to the back room.  Every stool was occupied with early Friday drinkers.   It was Maryland crab soup and chicken cakes, a version of crab cakes, and Sally and I shared a Perfect Storm... ginger beer and Grand Marnier and bitters and a little bit of lime.  Delicious.
Here we settled for a good talk with pleasant James, a world traveler, a student, who would run a half-marathon as part of the Baltimore Marathon the next day.  And we were off to Todd Connor's,  an Irish bar named after the owners' two children (it was reported that she was pregnant and they might need to re-name the bar), where we had the foodie equivalent of PBandJ sandwiches and milk.   A sauteed peanut butter sandwich with jam spread, and a White Russian.  And here we lingered with James, discussing health care and politics and, eventually, going off to sit on the edge of our seats watching Tom Hanks and some Somali actors from Minneapolis in Captain Phillips.  James has told us to watch for his friend Ginny the bartender at the Landmark movie theater and, sure enough, there's a classy bar in the corner of the lobby, and she has, as advertised, created a craft drink menu related to the movies then playing.  For Captain Phillips,  a "Troubled Waters".
Again, it's pouring outside and now we're getting really wet.  My MOMA umbrella is getting a workout.  But the streets outside classy Landmark, are full of the young beautiful and prosperous and it's a lovely scene to observe, laughing people, well-dressed and shiny, clustering under umbrellas and headed into bars with doormen, visible through wide windows dusted with rain, leaning in toward each other and laughing.  Back in Fells Point, Sally and I stay out walking for a while, and each bar here has a... what?...bouncer sitting on a stool outside checking IDs and calling out to passersby to come in for $1 beers or touting the pleasures of their establishment.  Passing one, we three wet ones are invited to come in. We, smiling, decline and move on.  It seems like a beautiful night, however wet, especially when we find the back door of Bonaparte's Bakery, where good James has told us we can come in the middle of the night to buy chocolate almond croissants right out of the oven, as overnight bakers prepare for weekend custom and deliveries to half the good restaurants in Baltimore.  And indeed there is a baker behind the window, cutting pastries on a floury table, and it smells wonderful even in the rain.

We ran across the Chesapeake yesterday under a gray sky, with brisk winds, bundled up on the flybridge, with me re acquainting myself with boat systems and navigation and content to dabble with the several versions of complex charts, the depth finders, the bearing readings, the weather predictions, the tides and currents, and all.  And also content to sit up top, hood up, back turned to the wind and look out over the expanse of water and to sit on the stern step, starboard quarter, out of the wind, feet braced against the gunwale, mind wandering.  We were headed for Rock Hall, a little hamlet where Jeff and Sally have friends and, to my astonishment,  two of those friends are neighbors from Woodland Acres, who have moved out east and keep a sailboat on the bay, and the third a sailor gent whom they met in the Exumas and keep track of in their various travels.   We went to a town festival, where the fire department was selling fried oyster baskets, craft booths lined Main Street, with live music at both ends of the three-block expanse.  In the children's area, you could ride a pony, jump in a bouncy house, or milk a patient long-suffering goat.  Just off the street was a tiny gathering of moved-in formed one-room tourist cottages, painted in bright colors, and occupied by artists and sellers.  At the back of this Oyster Court, down a winding gravel path, the most permanent of these is a little personal museum for a long-gone amusement park, Tolchester Park, which apparently once was a feature of the Eastern Shore until its demise around 1962.  The gentleman greeter turns out to be the collector, too, and the proprietor, who points out both a newspaper article about the charms of the tiny spot, and a photo of himself and brother, ages 5 and 6, perched on a studio pony of long ago for a softly blurred photograph.  Many photos on the wall, including some charmers of the bingo tent in that long ago spot, with a woman caller whom this gentlemen knew.  Also many revelers in swimming outfits, large hats and parasols and, later, staid dresses of the fifties.  They picnic, sun, pose, smile from old battered black frames.  We talk about carousels -- there are three separate ones pictured on the wall, glimpses of a grand PTC, a very early Armitage Herschell, and a smaller and uglier one -- and while we stand a look,  Mr. Proprietor says, quietly,  'well, it was a nicer time'.
Later, dining at the Harbor Shack and a cozy night docked up on the free wall.  And this morning, crossing again, this time through a narrow and fast-moving channel toward St. Michael.  We'll be anchoring out there within the hour.... no public dock... and headed to a Maritime Museum through a new-to-me charming historic village, riding wet in the dinghy from Adirondack to the dinghy dock onto the streets of St. Michael.  

 Tuesday...or maybe Monday
 where I am charmed by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, a really good one with a fine lighthouse exhibit where the id placques are embedded in the artifacts and you are encouraged to open and look inside and behind and below.  I'm used to the lighthouse shapes of the Great Lakes and these Chesapeake versions are broader and less tall... I suppose the lower topography here of islands and trees doesn't require the height that dunes and rock cliffs would.  They are perched on enormous iron legs which, I learn, are screwed into the sand and mud of the bottom.  Charmed here, too, by a tremendous exhibit on Playing on the Chesapeake with wonderful photos and artifacts of people boating, swimming, skiing, oystering, beach picnicking, and all the things people love to do in sun, sand and water.  There a wonderful 1946-vintage cruiser called Isabel, which the same family ran for fifty years around the Bay and finally donated it to the Museum, where it rocks against the pilings;  they use it to take people for rides on days more clement than this one. 
There's an exhibit of oystering on the Bay, with video and sound track while you clamber over a skipjack.  And a statue of a Chesapeake Bay retriever, apparently all descended from a couple of shipwrecked Newfoundland puppies long ago.  Oh, I love these local museums.
On Monday, at least I think it's Monday, we motor a few hours in welcome sunshine to Cambridge. It's a beautiful ride on the Bay;  we cut through Knapp's Narrows to save time, at nearly slack tide, and are still pushed out like a cork from a bottle beyond the bridge, where the reds/greens reverse again and I'm thrown back on the chart to figure out, as best as I can, where we are red-right-returning to, and from.  Emerging from the channel,  we pass the Rebecca Ruark, the oldest operating skipjack on the Bay, built in 1866 for heaven's sake, carrying a load of middle-schoolers who labor, in teams of three, to raise her sails when she is ready go to sail from the pushboat, also called a yawl.
We tie up on the free wall here, and break out the foldable bikes so Sally and I can ride:  to the visitor's center of course for maps and a little artifact-looking, then to some heritage gardens going fall-like and small, and out some commercial streets toward a Harriet Tubman Memorial Gardens, which we find, neglected and a little sad,  pressed in a little triangle between busy streets near the big box stores.   And we were biking down a rather narrow sidewalk, passing an open door and heard a loud cry of pain and anguish, and when I looked back, it was the open door of a tattoo shop called Lethal Injection and some poor man must have been being pierced at that exact moment.  What part of the body would hurt that much?!  I don't want to know.
A good day, and sun!  We have no particular plan for tomorrow, and that is part of the fun.    

 It took until today for me to fall for Cambridge, which yesterday seemed somewhat nondescript.  Jeff and I took a long bike ride out through town and outside to a palatial Hyatt Regency where we boldly rode the golf cart paths on the River Marsh course, breaching the no bicycling signs and nodding pleasantly at the golfers.   A beautiful course.   And on the way back we stopped at Central Market and spoke to a nattily dressed elderly gentleman with pomade and a curl in his hair, whose family had been running the store since 1937.  Wooden floor,  pork necks and they cut your steaks to order,  a bag of Maryland beaten biscuits made for the store by the Camper Sisters.  Judge Travis stands upright and welcoming and tells us the story of why the upper reaches of the shelves are full of old things...  his predecessors, whenever something went out of style or reach and was no longer carried,  would save one example and put it up on those high shelves,  now a dusty jumble of boxes and cans and bottles, with an occasional crab trap thrown in.   We're here for chicken necks, so we can do a crabbing experiment;  hang 'em, ripe,  from a string which you draw up from the water and net them before they realize they can't breathe air.   We get the last package.
Bright yellow crocuses are in bloom here in Cambridge on October 16, and the air is soft and sunny.   I am magnetically drawn to a shabby storefront with a few bright old quilts draped outside and a sign that says Visionary Art.   Inside a man named Danny Doughty is starting on a large canvas near the open door, standing on a floor with a painted slogan about Peace and God's Love for everyone.  The walls are covered with canvases and, to my surprise,  there are several that I like.  Large bright shapes and female African American figures, faceless,  with billowing skirts and, in my favorite in front of a wide arc of bright cottages that remind me of a place I saw last year on Martha's Vineyard. I like Danny Doughty, who lives in the back, and has been painting here for decades, honoring he says,  the African American women who saved his life. 
A new sailboat has pulled up to the free wall,  Sea Something out of Minneapolis, and as we pedal by, they leap out and call Jeff!   He doesn't remember them, but they remember meeting him on Stockton Island a couple of years ago.  They have sold everything and bought a boat and are headed south for the winter. 
And now we're motoring out of the Choptank River toward an anchorage down around Hooper Island where we'll sit and read and sleep.  And tomorrow,  on.

 I napped heavily today, snug in the berth on a gray morning, while Adirondack motored south toward Smith and Tangier Island.   Waking groggy after a few hours and showing underway as we approached Smith Island, where the channel in is tight and turning and the chart shows shoals on either side close.  The watermen crowd through at full speed while we employ all the info we have, chart and ipad chart and eyes and buoys and all, and into a narrow channel running through a tiny tiny town.  Adirondack seems much much bigger here, and higher, as we nod to people on the docks and are largely ignored by the working boatmen bringing their end-of-day catch in for dinner or for business.  On the far side, as red/greens reverse again, a crab boat, loaded with eight or ten men, low in the stern, some distance ahead of us, backs and turns and pauses.  Through the binocs they appear to be having a meeting of some kind in the long working cockpit, all standing, all with backs to us and consequently facing toward a low island. 
Through the channels to Tylerton, watching carefully, ebb tide and mid-tide.   We find the town dock, or what we think is the town dock, amid a set of rusted and battered docks and pilings and water structures.   A giant man from the Captain Jason II watches us come in... 'is this the town dock' we ask but there is no answer.   We do a snappy job of turning and catching, under his indifferent eye, but after we're tied up, fenders on the horizontal, a fellow appears and tells us to move down halfway... the school boat will soon be arriving, and indeed, just after we walk the now giant-appearing Adirondack down 70 feet or so, a catamaran appears and two home-from-school teenagers step off and into golf carts, and away. 
 The moment when that cat pulls out, growling, and heads to the next island is remarkable.  Now there are no people here at all and only the birds calling and a palpable silence falls over the battered little waterfront.  There is a flagpole, but the Stars and Stripes have been so eaten by the sea wind that it resembles a battle flag and makes me think of the War of 1812, which was hotly contested in these very waters.   There are no roads here, just lanes between houses with picket fences, and many of them garlanded with autumn decorations.   Others appear utterly empty.  The combo general store/post office/ cafe ("crab cakes") is closed and quiet.  A few artificial pumpkins are on the side porch with a hand-printed sign that says Halloweeen decor, buy one get one free'.  We walk to the Methodist church,  a beautiful facade and walk through the cemetery, between the church and the waterfront, and as I step around the corner of the building between the covered graves,  crows break from trees off to the left and from among the graves ahead, and swarm, cawing, into the sky.
 There are Tylers here, and Marshalls, and Maggies, and children.  Heads and feet are both marked, the land is low and wet and headstones go back several hundred years.  All of it, the monuments, must have come by boat from the mainland at some time.   The stained glass windows, the pews.   There is a church hall below with a large flatscreen, where I imagine movies are sometimes shown and the village business is conducted.   And there is not a soul around.  No people, no voices, one call of a child a lane or two away, unanswered.   We are drawn to even walk quietly and, since the lane is dirt and damp, there is no sound.  We walk to the seafood coop.  No one.  I cannot imagine the ringing of a telephone.   At one point, from inside a house,  there is a small murmur which might be a television.  Is it dinnertime?  prayer time?  Nap time?  It is 4 pm on a Wednesday and there seems to be quite literally no one on the island.   We see a battered pickup.  And a fire and rescue vehicle parked askew near the seafood co op.  The two teens, who took the silent golf carts from the school boat. are gone.  No one walks or talks.The gulls are calling, but quietly.  At 6, the sun goes behind a cloud bank and the day grays out.   It feels like we are the only people on the earth.
 We try a little crabbing off the dock, which is laughable.  Something might be down there tugging on that ugly chicken neck, but whatever it is is smart enough to let go when it is raised towards its effective sky.  We laugh, though, gazing fixedly toward the water, poised with rod in hand, hoping an 8 oz crustacean may be wandering by at exactly the right spot in this vast watery world.  WHat are the odds, which I prefer to think, rather than imagining that the floor of the Bay is literally crawling with crabs everywhere.   While we're sitting there, the Captain Jason II returns and offloads a group of island women returning from a shopping expedition in Crisfield, and thirty or forty shopping bags from the grocery store, from clothing stores, and from Macy's.  Jeff helps them uinload their cargo onto the dock, and helps the larger ladies ashore, where they promptly load everything onto golf carts and zip away with their booty. Presently, the island seems to stir and we see a few people walking along, and a dog.
The boat we saw yesterday turns out to be from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and they settle a couple of docks away and Jeff and I go down to investigate and we are invited to join them for steamed crab.  It's a group of young environmental professionals on the Bay for a couple of days;  yesterday they set out crab pots, today they harvested a bushel, and we are all three happy to stand with them on the darkened dock breaking the crabs apart and digging the meat out with our hands, tossing the shells into the water.
One of the ladies who is stationed here tells us that the crab picking co-op women will be working tonight but, during an evening walk, the building is quiet and dark.  Walking back, we swing by the church and lights are blazing from the basement windows.  A murmur of voices can be heard, and the golf buggies are parked outside.  Prayer meeting.  We wait an hour and walk back out to the co-op, now lit up and occupied.  The ladies are startled by our knock, but welcoming, sitting at a huge stainless steel table with a tipped-over bushel basket of crabs within reach under bright light, with a small tv tuned to Survivor.   They use a small knife as their only tool as they work through the mass of crabs, stripping away the externals, knocking the shells apart, picking apart the meat and piling it into little one-pound tubs 'packed with pride by the women of Smith Island'. 
They are friendly and willing to sell.   They wonder how we found them from Minnesota.  The harvest is down... why?  'Well, you'd have to ask God that'.  These women are the mothers of the two teen girls we saw getting off the school boat earlier.   Will their daughters stay on the island?  No.  One, a basketball player, stays with her grandmother from October to March.  'It's a hard living on the island.  They all go live on the mainland,' they say.
And afterwards, we walk through the dark along the deteriorated wharf and shabby boats, and that is the circumference of Tylerton and the island,  and back aboard Adirondack with one pound of the freshest crabmeat imaginable, and a recipe for crabcake.  It has clouded over and the nearly-full moon is not visible above.  A woman is casting for rockfish off the dock nearby and shows us a beauty, then tosses it back.  'Not legal until they're eighteen inches', she says, smiling, and casts again.  Night time on the island and the school boat leaves at 6:20 tomorrow morning, with the island daughters aboard.

And it did leave at 6:20 in the morning, rumbling by Adirondack and rousing me from my berth to stand, sleepy, watching it pull away.   Shortly after, the friendly hefty captain of Captain Jason II arrived in his rattly pickup with Romney bumper stickers instead of license plates, and boarded to prepare.  I stood in our cabin in my pjs watching golf buggies arrive with islanders and bags and parcels, including one the crab-picking ladies from last night, with two kids in tow, who heft their backpacks and settle into the cabin for the ride.  A few more people arrive and board until there are eight or so;  Jeff goes out to chat, and they are off.
After breakfast, Jeff and I get in the dinghy and zoom over to Ewell, a couple of miles in open water on plane and explore for a bit.  The visitor's center is closed, the store is closed.  Walking a back lane, returning from a visit to another dock,  we run across a building that smells good even from outside.  It's the Smith Island Bakery, a small commercial outfit that produces the local delicacy of a ten-layer cake, for restaurants and special occasions.  Like the crab co-op in Tylerton, women are working here, with babies and playpens in the corners,  a hundred cake pans, buckets of chocolate frosting and baking baking baking.  Wonderful smell, and friendly smile and I come away with a 6" version to carry, carefully, back in the dinghy through the grass flats and around the green buoys.  Back in Tylerton, at the general store,  we smile and chat with watermen having lunch and order crab cake sandwiches to be eaten on oilcloth on a sagging front porch.  Delicious.   An old beagle is tied to a golf buggy in front,  and he retreats as far as he can when two peacocks strut up, the male casting a baleful eye on the little dog.  The rockfish fishing lady from last night roars through in her golf buggy calling "look out, peacock!", and laughing as the snowy one clears out.  The girls from the Foundation drive by with the leftovers from their last night's feast and go to every house distributing the extra pulled pork and macaroni and cheese and salad, and we get some, too.   The sun is shining, roses are blooming in the sideyards, and women are out trimming their bushes and trees in preparation for the winter.
 In the afternoon, we have a long rough haul across the Bay to the western shore, and the ones and two foot waves turn into threes with an occasional four.  When it starts to rain, we retreat below and Jeff drives from the cabin, while Sally and I watch for other boats.  We pass close to two enormous container ships and a barge with tow, and hear traffic from Navy ships in the area, but for most of the 5 hours, we have the Bay to ourselves.  We glide eventually, and a little gratefully, to a quiet anchorage in Jackson Creek.  I sit up top and read.  We eat the pulled pork from the Foundation girls, and watch a nearly-full moon dash in and out of the clouds.  Now,  they are reading in their cabin, and I am typing in the salon.  Tomorrow, an early departure to try to use part of the ebb tide going down-bay toward Hampton.  It's forty nautical miles, so another five hours or so, and we hope for good weather.  They need to be there tomorrow to attend a Snowbird rendezvous."

Well, that's enough content for at least ten of my blogs, so I'm just going to start another.

Capt. Jeff

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Heading South Again!

We had an amazing two weeks of warm, sunny weather as we cruised down the Hudson, around New Jersey and into Chesapeake Bay. What a fall!

We stopped at Hyde Park Landing and picked up a mooring ball (with a lot of effort - very short chain on the ball so it took both of us to get a line on it) and had a wonderful hike through the woods to the FDR Library and Museum. We had been there in the spring, a day before the redone museum was to reopen, so we wanted a chance to visit again. It was well worth the stop - both for the hike and a chance for Jeff to discuss world events with FDR and Eleanor.

The rest of the trip down the Hudson was beautiful - trees just starting to turn on the hillsides. We zoomed under the George Washington Bridge and through the harbor to the anchorage behind the Statue of Liberty. It was tantalizing to see New York, but it doesn't really work to get there from the anchorage, so we just waved as we went by.

The wind predictions were a bit iffy for getting around the top of NJ where you have to go out onto the Atlantic, so we passed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and headed to the west side of Sandy Hook for the night. The next day the wind was moderating and coming off the land, so we went out to try it and had a lovely run down the coast to Manasquan Inlet, hitting it at slack tide and entering with flat water - much different from the wild, wavy entrance we encountered last fall. I liked this time much better. We continued down through the canal into the top of Barnegat Bay and anchored for the night.

We left the next morning down the Intracoastal Waterway through the Bay to Beach Haven, NJ: home of cheap diesel and a lovely town. We spent the night in the marina and had dinner with new dock mates.

Then with good weather predicted, we headed out Little Egg Inlet and took the outside route along the southern part of New Jersey. This was a first for us - we've always taken the shallow, twisty ICW. We had the perfect day and it went well. We passed Atlantic City, beautiful beaches, only a few fishing nets and came into Cape May early in the afternoon. We went through the Cape May Canal and anchored off the southern breakwater then dinghied back to town to explore. We found a Monk, "Significant Other,"  tied up at one of the marinas and met a great couple who are now live-aboards, then back to the boat and a walk down the nearby beach.

We were up early the next morning to catch the tide/current up Delaware Bay and we managed to hit it perfectly! We had a push all the way up the bay to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, where the tide turned and we were scooted through with an extra 1.5 knots of speed to Chesapeake City. When we arrived we lucked out to find an open spot on the free town dock, so we tied up and walked around town. I was able to visit one of my favorite yarn stores and showed off the sweater I had just finished from yarn I bought there on sale in June.

Later that afternoon, our new friends on "Significant Other" arrived and another spot on the dock opened up so we could share dock space, wine and dinner. A very good night.

Once through the C&D Canal, we were in the top of Chesapeake Bay, where we've been exploring the Sassafras River. We anchored out and had a good swim in almost completely fresh water on a hot afternoon. We came into Georgetown Yacht Basin to wait out a windy, blowy few days and have had lots of fun waxing the boat - not really! But the boat does look fresh and shiny.

Today we'll head over to Baltimore to await the arrival of our friend Peg, then more of the Chesapeake to explore. Sally

Friday, September 27, 2013

On the Road Again...

We are back moving on the water. We left the Champlain Bridge Marina on Tuesday and headed down the Champlain Canal to the Hudson and points South.

                                         Accommodations along the Champlain Canal

Parked at Waterford City free dock, the intersection of the Champlain and Erie Canals. The city provides power, water, restrooms and showers for a nominal fee and there were lots of boats there. Very few boats anywhere else, though. It's the end of the season. Weather has been spectacular! When we were here in July, the water was at flood stage. We came right under that bridge with our mast up, looking at the board indicating water depth, not bridge clearance, like they usually do. We made it, but the boat that was following us because he thought we knew what we were doing did not. His mast was a foot taller than ours and the whole thing came crashing down on the back deck. I can still remember that awful sound.....

The Bollard Babe in action. This is the only lock (Federation Lock in Troy, NY) we used a midship line on, so I could just sit up top and critique Sally's flawless locking technique. The boat slides up and down the tube, so all she has to do is hang on. This is a piece of cake, unless the wind is blowing, and then it is not. All the other locks require her to grab the front lock rope while I'm stopping the boat and then I run down and grab the stern rope. It's harder than it looks because the mast is laying down across the back deck so it doesn't get knocked off by the low bridges.

                                             Albany skyline, no other boats around. Wow.

              Fresh tomato sandwich, with fresh basil from our expansive garden, right on the back deck.

Downtown Saugerties, NY, where we anchored last night in this gorgeous little river right off the Hudson. The locals were so welcoming we felt like we could stay for years. We had never heard of the place before, but will come again.

So today we will go back to Hyde Park, where we will look at the FDR museum that opened the day after we were there last time. That was quite the stop.

Weather has been unbelievably good. We are hoping it will hold until we get to the Chesapeake. We wait for the tide to turn, as we are once again under the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, even way up here. It makes a difference of up to a knot in speed, meaning if you catch it the wrong way, it can mean the difference between going 9 knots or 7, quite a big deal in time and fuel.

Adirondack has been performing admirably; we can't even think of anything that needs fixing. How about that?

Captain Jeff

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer on Champlain - another Great Lake

We've been having a wonderful summer trundling between Vermont and the Adirondacks - two of the most lovely places in the world. We have had the use of Dad's car and have used it to move back and forth.

We headed to Camp Sabael on Indian Lake on July16th with Dad. David and Adam arrived that evening after a road trip from Minnesota. Boats were launched and the guide boat taken to the beach, what little there was of it. There had been lots of rain and the lake was very high. The swimming was delightful. We had a good hike up Super Point to scatter the ashes of sweet Tiggy, David's cat.

Over the next 10 days, the excitement was building for the Camp Sabael Quasquicentennial! A celebration of the 125th year from the founding of camp by my great great grandfather and five friends. The 30' X 45' tent was delivered on the 25th and erected on the old grass tennis court. The portable toilet arrived and was installed. A pit was dug for the compostable plates and tableware. By evening all was ready and Camp was filling up.

We ended up with 90 participants spread among the 8 houses in Camp plus some in tents and rental houses across the lake. The weather cooperated for a great Baldface Mountain climb on Friday morning and a group swim and swimsuit competition on the Gott beach in the afternoon with a beach fire and singing that evening.

Saturday morning Joanna Colwell taught a yoga class at the tent then Ted Watt led a nature walk on Jerry's Farm. A large group swam the lake, crossing over to the western side where we had warned our neighbors about the invasion. In the afternoon, people toured the houses and prepared for the pot luck supper. We had a good showing of local friends and neighbors, wonderful food, and a mosquito-y dance under the tent.

Sunday morning the weather turned a bit drizzly, but we were still able to have a bird / fern walk followed by a Quakerish Thanksgiving service. The weather cleared enough for a rousing croquet tournament up at Eagle's Reach and some boat races on the lake. The evening was capped by a huge Oh Hell tournament at Snow Bird.

It was a wonderful time to celebrate a place we love and see all the people who also make it so special.

The boys left on the 30th to head back to MN and Jeff and I took Dad back to Vermont. Boat jobs were done, but we also were able to take Dad up the lake to Valcour Island for an overnight. This was the site of the first battle of the American Navy during the Revolutionary War. The fleet was commanded by Benedict Arnold and they met the British right by the bay we were anchored in! We even got on shore for a walk to the lighthouse.

We got back to Pine Bluff for a week on August 9th. A much quieter place now that the excitement of the big todo is over. We got in a climb of Castle Rock at Blue Mountain Lake and a trip to Glens Falls to see an exhibit of Georgia O'Keefe works done when she was at Lake George nearby. Now back in Vermont to pick up Jeff from his trip to MN for his mom's 90th birthday party. More Adirondack time to come, plus some cruising time on the boat, visits with sister Linda coming in September, then we'll figure out what to do next. It will become clear as we get closer. Sally

Thursday, July 11, 2013

To Infinity (or the Hudson) and Beyond!!

We have made it all the way to Lake Champlain, where we plan to spend the summer on a Pretty Wonderful Lake (since it didn't make Great Lake status!) We are tucked into a marina right by the Crown Point Bridge which spans the lake across to New York and is only 20 miles to East Middlebury and River Barn, the home of my dad, brother and family. The Middlebury River is making lovely noises as I sit on the porch and update the blog.

We had a good trip through the Intracoastal Waterway of New Jersey - skinny water at times, but we never touched the bottom and we were able to lead our friends on "Once Upon a Time" through also. We anchored behind the Statue of Liberty after entering New York harbor and connected with our friend Peter who came with us up the Hudson and through the Champlain locks. The cab driver from the Newark airport couldn't find the boat launch near the Liberty park and left Peter at the Liberty Landing Marina (at least he found water and boats). Jeff dinghied over to get him and after being swamped by a big boat as they left the marina, we got everyone on board.

The next day we headed up the Hudson. It is wondrous to pass Manhattan and skyscrapers, including the new Freedom Tower that has replaced the World Trade Center. Soon we passed under the Washington Bridge, a character in one of my favorite books as a child - "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge." The lighthouse is still there, dwarfed by the bridge. The river then turns from urban to amazingly wild with the Pallisades looming above on the New Jersey side. We timed our travels with the tide which gives a boost northward all the way to Albany!                                                                                                                                              

We stopped at Croton-on-Hudson for two nights - one at anchor and then into the marina for a night. Close by was an Enterprise Rental Car office and we were able to rent a car for the day and drive to Hyde Park for a day of Roosevelts. We visited Franklin's home, Springwood, where he was born and lived, and then Val-Kil, Eleanor's home after Franklin died. It was a good day of history.

The next day, we continued up the river, passing under the Walk Across the Hudson - an old railroad bridge that has been made into a park for walkers and bikers. We tied up to a dock at a restaurant at the western base (free dockage if you eat there) and the next morning hiked up to the top of the bluff and strolled across to Poughkeepsie. The views were beautiful and it was a great adventure.

We continued on to Kingston, then Athens NY, a brief stop in Albany and finally made it to Waterford, where the Erie Canal comes in from the west and the Champlain Canal continues on to the north. The East has been having lots of rain - the Erie had been closed because of high water for almost 3 weeks and the rumor was it wouldn't open for another two weeks. We were very glad that we were going to Champlain. Many of the boats trying to complete the Great Loop trip have been stuck waiting for the Canal to open.

It was great to have Peter with us as we went through the 11 locks of the Champlain Canal. It is so much easier to have the Captain drive the boat into the lock and have someone on the bow and the stern to grab the lines hanging off the walls of the locks to hold the boat in place. We stopped in Schuylerville for a night and discovered a wonderful used bookstore, Old Saratoga Books - complete with a delightful painted horse right outside! Luckily it wasn't too far to walk back to the boat with my armful of books.

At the end of the canal is Whitehall NY, one of many towns claiming to be the Birthplace of the American Navy. Benedict Arnold built the boats that met the British on Lake Champlain here at the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War. The town is looking weary, but the free town dock had power to run the air conditioning on a very hot day and we had a steep walk up to Skene Manor, the mansion overlooking the town.

The last lock was transited and we headed up the narrow inlet at the southern end of the lake and had more days of history. We anchored for a few hours at the base of Fort Ticonderoga, dinghied over to shore (which involved paddling through the weeds that fouled the motor), climbed up to the fort and explored the reconstructed fort and grounds.

Our next stop was to anchor off Crown Point, right next to the new bridge to New York. We walked the sites of the French fort and the British fort along with the lighthouse / monument dedicated to Samuel Champlain - quite the impressive monument and quite the impressive explorer. 

Now we will have time to explore the lake, spend time at Camp Sabael on Indian Lake in the Adirondacks and have more porch time at River Barn. Life is good. Sally

Monday, June 24, 2013

Farewell Chesapeake!

We have had such a wonderful time exploring the Chesapeake. Adirondack spent his early years here before joining our family. There are so many places to see and things to do. It’s easy to see how a boat could spend years here and still have places to go.

After leaving Solomons, we crossed to the Eastern Shore and spent two great days in Cambridge, tying up at the free town wall. We bought groceries at a store that had been in the family for 76 years, very funky and full of interesting foods. The High Spot Pub had the best crab soup – it equaled the seafood chowder from Shediac New Brunswick, which is quite the compliment! The next day we toured the Visitor Center, the Richardson Maritime Museum, the Choptank River Lighthouse, the Harriet Tubman Museum and went back to the High Spot for a dessert glass of Smoking Wood beer.

We then moved on to Oxford, keeping our academic theme going. Oxford was a beautiful little town, hardly any traffic and great for walking. They have a good general store and the best ice cream on the Bay at the Scottish Highlands Creamery. We managed to get the materials we needed to fix the shower at Cutts and Case Yachts, which has a shed full of gorgeous old wooden boats. We got lots of boat jobs done with the shower repair and caulking the shower window (which was leaking into the boat) and caulking the back window over our bed (which was dripping on my head during heavy downpours).

Annapolis was the next stop to pick up friends who had bought time on the boat at our church service auction last fall. They had lived before on the Bay and have family here, so it was wonderful to explore some old and new places. We crossed to the Eastern Shore again to St Michaels, which is almost too cute. We had a delicious crab lunch at the Crab Claw restaurant and I got some time at the good yarn store in town.

We then went up the Chester River to Cacaway Farm where we tied up at the dock just before a huge downpour. What a lovely spot to spend a day; good food, great company and a TV for Kevin to watch game 6 of the NBA championship.

Rock Hall was the next destination. We had the free town wall almost all to ourselves and Jeff had multiple trips to the nearby West Marine store. We were able to connect up with one of our favorite fellow cruisers from the Exumas, Andy “Andante”. It was lovely to see him and catch up on life and talk about possible trips back South in the fall.

Finally we continued north in the Bay to Havre de Grace, another great town where Gina had lived and the kids were born and then on to Chesapeake City where we had to drop them off. What a great crew they were!

Now we are working our way through the skinny water of the Intracoastal Waterway of New Jersey, timing our days with high tide and watching the charts and buoys very carefully. We met up with Brent and Susan “Once Upon a Time” from St Paul at Annapolis and again at Chesapeake City and are traveling together through the ICW – very fun to share time together with great fellow cruisers. Soon we’ll be in NYC then on to Champlain!! Sally