Monday, April 21, 2008

Boat Yard bound then California

We just arrived in Baltimore after a blustery 25nm sail from Annapolis. Thunder, lightning and gusty winds made for an exciting sail. With a lull in the winds we decided to try out the spinnaker for the first time. All was going well with the huge colorful sail and we were making 8knots in fairly light winds. Then a down draft blasted us and the boat jumped in speed to over 16 knots in a matter of seconds making me a bit nervous and really testing the spinnaker. The wind increased further and I was ready to blow the spin sheet and try to save the sail, but then it ripped mightily making the snap decision just seconds before I did. Oh well, another item for the To Do List. As the boat down with the ripped sail I was actually relieved as 16+ knots is too fast for my level of comfort with the new boat. We took down the damaged spinnaker and a few minutes later the downdraft gust had subsided and we were gong on 5 knots with the main sail only.

Baltimore is really nice and highly accessible by yacht. We spent our first night anchored in the inner harbor and had a nice diner ashore.

Today we are hauling the boat to renew the bottom paint. Ugh! A dirty job for several days. Then the boat will be stored in the yard for maybe up to a month while we make a trip to California to work on Kathy's house. Her San Diego home has been a rental for 3-4 years and is ready for a freshen up with new paint, appliances and refinished hardwood floors.


Baltimore inner harbor for a night

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Enamored with Annapolis

It could just be favorable first impressions, as they have all been fabulous. However, I really think Annapolis is unlikely to disappoint with it's great history, charm and boater centricity.

Tonight will be our forth night in the area the first being spent anchored in Back Creek and then we moved to Spa Creek near downtown Annapolis and the Naval Academy. What an easy place to access by boat with shops, restaurants and services located right on the waterfront and dinghy docks at nearly every streets end.

With Baltimore and Washington within a day sail or two away one might find big city sights and the secluded anchorages of the Chesapeake in perfect proportions... we may be here awhile.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Annapolis bound

Today, we are very near Annapolis and plan to anchor there tonight. Annapolis represents a major milestone in our quest for warmer weather. Temperatures may reach 68 degrees tomorrow!

Cape May fishing fleet

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cape May, NJ to Chesapeake City, DE

Cape May was a nice little stop over after all. Kathy's birthday is still officially postponed until we reach Annapolis. However, we did manage to find a popular restaurant for a pre-birthday dinner.

Weather had us pinned down a few more days than expected at Cape May as we were considering going the offshore route down to Norfolk. Our patience for the right offshore weather to run south ran out before the weather appear so we headed up the Delaware bay to the C&D Canal that connects to the Chesapeake Bay. The new plan being we now sail down the Chesapeake to Norfolk or thereabouts as we think the weather is significantly warmer there.

Well, the weather gods did not smile on our idea to sail up Delaware Bay and we certainly didn't anticipate the Bay's ferocity nor ability to whip up some nasty weather. At 6AM with cold driving rain and 15-25+ knots of wind just forward of the beam the passage was quite unpleasant and actually ranks quite high on my list of worst trips. We toughed out the 50nm run up the bay under a double reef and nearly no jib showing after hitting sustained 12knots of boat speed. The speed was great it was just to rough and choppy to enjoy so we slowed the boat down to a less bone jarring 5-8 knots for most of the trip. One notable event was the sighting of another sailboat underway... it was the first on our journey from New York!

We are now tied up to the Chesapeake City free transient dock for the night and I'm enjoying letting my frozen toes un-thaw while Kathy has a quick nap. We plan on dinner ashore as a reward for our tough day.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Atlantic City to Cape May

Last night we anchored off the Trump Marina complex in Atlantic City, NJ and went into the Casino for lunch and a little black jack. We were hoping to stay at the marina, but the daily moorage rate of $2 per/ft per night was a little much for off-season at an empty marina.

One night at Atlantic City was enough so we headed south day sailing down to Cape May. A nice 40nm sail with mostly sunny skies and favorable winds let us get more comfortable with the boat. The primary observation for the day was that Pacifica is very easy to sail with all lines led to the cockpit and the relatively small sails it's very simple to raise, reef and trim sails. Since the boat sails so flat there is never a need to "hold on" or worry that a cup of coffee will overturn or even slosh for that matter.

Kathy's Birthday is tomorrow April 4th and we were hoping to be somewhere fun. It looks like her birthday "day" may need to be postponed since we are stuck here in Cape May.

The next leg of our journey to find warmer weather is to head up the Delaware Bay about 50nm to a canal that cuts through to the Chesapeake Bay where we can again make progress South.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Stormy weather at Beach Haven, NJ stop over.

Our second stop on the New Jersey Inter Coastal Waterway (NJICW) was at Beach Haven yacht club marina. we really didn't intend to stay at a marina as the boat was stocked with food we wanted for nothing. That was until we ran out of LPG for our cabin heater and a chill set into the boat.

Finding our way along the NJICW was easy with our excellent navigation software and GPS. The problem was we didn't have a cruising guide book (one does not seem to exist) to educate us on what we were passing by. It was really a bummer as we had no information on marinas, services or historical sites.

So when the LPG ran out for the heater we needed information fast. The NJICW is a very narrow canal at times and sometimes quite large bodies of water. When we approacehd a narrow section that was lined with homes we tunred on our computer WIFI and hooked up to the net to gain so info on local services. worked like a charm and the first phone call they said "no problem we will turn on the power to the docks and tomorrow you can use our car to go get some LPG". Moorage was $20 per night (off season special) including, electricity, hot showers and laundry facilities so we stayed three nights as the weather was poor with wind, ran and fog.

On the third night about 1AM I woke with jump as the boat hit the dock. The wind had shifted 180 and built to 25 with gusts to 35 directly on our beam, it was low tide and we were banging our tops side deck against the underside of the finger pier. Not a good situation with the pounding waves and rising tide. Half asleep, I jump up through a hatch and on to the dock to push the boat away and move some fenders to temporarily protect from further damage while Kathy grabbed a jacket and helped fend off. After a few minutes in the extreme wind chill and rain I jumped back aboard and got dressed for further action. Kathy and I secured the boat in a web of lines suspending it away from docks and piling. What we really needed to do was get out of the marina and find some shelter and drop the anchor. The problem was the wind was blowing so hard it would be impossible to get away from the docks and piers with out serious damage to the boat. The reason being we were in a 75' long 25' wide slip constructed of piles spaced about 15' apart with a finger pier on one down wind side. The finger pier was crudely constructed and since the wind and waves would pound the boat violently against the pier if we tired to leave the boat would be damaged for certain gouging the hull and losing some stantions and lifelines.

The motion of the boat was so uncomfortable and our adrenaline shocked nerves so ragged we ended up staying awake until 4AM when we finally got some fitful sleep. While in bed I devised a plan to move the boat from the slip by reposition the lines many many times while utilizing the engines. It took at least forty five minutes to move the boat from one end of the slip to the other and then we gunned the engines and shot out of the slip unscathed. With a big sigh of relief we now were free to find some shelter from the howling wind.

Since it was only three hours more on the NJICW to Atlantic City so we toughed out the stormy conditions and made our way to Atlantic City by 1PM and dropped the anchor in a protected little nook. Along the way we found the bottom once and many times skimmed across shallow spots of less than six feet.

Now I know why the NJICW is not so popular for sailboats... it's a hassle to navigate and even the most attentive skipper will still run aground at least twice.