1.24.13

Throwback Thursday: Mama I’m Coming Home…Again

 

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment still leaves us in St. Augustine, a little over 6 weeks from the last Throwback Thursday, and still working on getting Serendipity seaworthy again.  After having waited four weeks just for the insurance adjuster to come out (they were incredibly busy with claims from Hurricane Sandy), we were finally able to get a total on the damage.  Some of the items we had contracted out to the yard in which we were staying and others we had done ourselves.

Without much for me personally to do besides get in the way and take up space, I decided to leave Matt for a week while I went out to visit my parents in Arizona.  That way he was able to tear apart the boat to get to some of the really dirty projects and live in filth while I was able to enjoy a few creature comforts.  He was able to get a lot done while I was gone, but I did find later that he’d work himself so long and hard that his dinners every night ended up being tuna.  Straight from the can.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday January 24, 2013

1.24.13

I knew this was going to be an early morning, and a somewhat rushed one too, they always are when you’re traveling, but I was not expecting the knock that came on hull sharply at 8 am.  The alarm had been set for fifteen minutes after 8 where I had planned on taking a quick shower, shoveling down some breakfast, and making sure all my bags were packed before departing for the airport at 9:30.  My parents ha offered to fly us out for a visit, and I was only more than happy to take them up on it.  So this even earlier wake up call that we were not expecting left us with questions of “Who is it, and what do they want?”.  Opening the door after a few seconds of pounding on the companionway and voices coming from outside saying, “Let me in, it’s cold out here!” we opened the door to find the guy that was going to be taking out the transmission and engine.  Who as far as we knew, wasn’t supposed to show up until 1:00 that afternoon, after Matt had gotten back from bringing me to Jacksonville (he has to stay behind for all the projects to commence this week).  Unbenounced to us, and even though he knew we were leaving that morning, the guy thought he would pop in for an hour or two to get the process started before the big work of actually removing the engine was to come that afternoon.

So before we were even fully awake or had the chance to get out of our pj’s, we were busy moving all the items from the aft cabin up into the v-berth and salon to make room for him to work.  And all of these new items were now being piled on top of everything we’d already moved out of the port side settee.  A project that had been done on Sunday night to make room for another guy that was supposed to come on Monday to repair all our broken tabbing.  To which he never showed up on Monday.  Or Tuesday, or Wednesday.  The boat was now literally a disaster area.  Still having to stick to my morning schedule, after helping Matt remove the bottom two steps for better access to the engine, I grabbed my shower supplies and went to get ready.  The real trick came though after I had gotten back, and needed to get dressed.  I hadn’t been smart enough to bring my change of clothes with me and was now forced to change in the head.  Which was now also full of crap that we were trying to get out of the way.  There were some real acrobatics involved changing in a space that small with no floor room.  Back in the salon   I was maneuvering around the small space, unpacking and then repacking things into my bag until I was finally ready.  We sent the engine/transmission guy packing, I gave Georgie a long hard snuggle for as long as she’d let me hold her, and took one last look at my home that I hadn’t been away from for almost six months.

Waiting outside the boat yard gates for us was Chris, and we started the hour long journey up to the Jacksonville airport.  Matt was along for the ride as Jacksonville has a very large and well stocked West Marine, and there are definitely a few more things we could use.  Getting dropped off I said a quick and hard goodbye to Matt and went to check myself in.  Initially at the wrong counter, too.  Good thing I noticed I was on US Airways and not United before I got up to the counter and made a total fool of myself.  But soon I did have my tickets in hand and a lot of time to kill when I realized I had never eaten that morning because the galley was ‘blocked’.  Having been offered Starbucks on the ride up but originally declining, the one shining in my face at the airport looked too good to pass up, plus it had a seat right next to an electrical outlet, so I rushed up and ordered a venti caramel macchiato and a scone.  It didn’t dawn on me until I was surfing the internet with a large drink in front of me that I remembered I’d probably still want to give myself an hour to get through security and to my gate.  Which left me 30 minutes to chug a piping hot 20 oz coffee.  Tried as I might, there was still a good 1/3rd left when my timer was up.

Quickly getting through security and the new x-ray machines that there is so much conspiracy about (it was my first time using one), I was sitting in front of my gate in a matter of 10 minutes.  After having passed a Starbucks inside security.  Damn.  We just didn’t have perks like that back in Grand Rapids.  Making sure I was one of the last people on the plane, because, who wants to sit on one any longer than they have to?, I was once again lucky enough not to be seated next to an over-talkative cat lady.  (Wait, that’s not going to be me now, is it?)  During the first leg of the journey (there was a layover in Charlotte) I became engrossed in the in-flight magazine and came across a very interesting book review for something I might need to find and check out of the library.  It’s mostly based on sayings parents will tell their children on safety that have rolled down the generations, and if they’re actually true or not.  Kind of a Myth Busters of ‘Don’t run with scissors’.  Before I knew it we were landing and I had to almost run through the terminal to get to my next flight, which was boarding as I got there.

During the next four hours of that flight I read up on Aruba in the same in-flight magazine (can’t wait to get there), edited some photos, and listened to music.  I can’t wait until I can get a new charger for my Nook and having that work on the way back.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the watches in the cockpit or the past six weeks of stuffing myself behind the desk at the nav station with my computer, but the seats on the plane didn’t even feel very small to me.  Bringing on two big bags since I’m not checking luggage, and then having them sit at my feet since the overhead compartment was full cramped my foot space a little, but it really wasn’t a bad ride.  After landing I walked through the Phoenix airport and it’s many levels to find my mom waiting for me at the baggage claim.  A few big hugs and we were on the way to the car where my dad was waiting for us and a cold Pepsi was waiting for me.  My favorite!  Then when I walked into my home away from home and went into the bedroom to drop off my bags there was a jar full of Skittles waiting for me on the nightstand.  Another favorite.  And the cherry on top, after getting to see my parents of course, was my engagement/wedding ring that had been stuffed away in a bank, ready for me to wear during my stay.  Do my parents know how to take care of me, or what?  I may have just walked in the door, but I can already tell this is an amazing week spending some much needed time with family, and possibly, getting spoiled rotten.

In St. Augustine news:  The pulling of the engine/transmission did not go as smooth as we had hoped.  Smooth as in, our companion way is no longer that.  Because of a few cords that should have been disconnected and were not, while the engine was being pulled out of the companionway by the crane, it snapped back and sent the engine flying into the wall.  From what Matt described to me, even with the height of the door handle for the head, there are now 7-8 pencil eraser size dents, and they’re deep.  I haven’t heard if they can be filled, but it sounded like the only way to fully repair this would be completely replace that wall.  Poor Matt.  At least he has chocolate chip cookies to soothe his pain.

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Cute couple dancing to Frank Sinatra in the airport.

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Cutting the genoa line off the prop.

Comforting to read while you’re flying on a plane.

 

 

12.4.12

Throwback Thursday: I Got 99 Problems but a Bilge Ain’t One

 

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment picks up just a few days after where we left off from last week’s Throwback Thursday when we had a hard grounding while coming in the inlet to St. Augustine Florida.  Having gotten ourselves towed to the St. Augustine Marine Center, it was the dreaded day we had been waiting for ever since we were safely attached to a mooring after our accident.  The survey of Serendipity to see how extensive the damage actually was.

 

Tuesday December 4, 2012

12.4.12

Yes, I have been saving that title for quite awhile now.  (It’s in reference to a Jay-Z song) No, I did not want it to be used in a case like this.  In my head it was to be used for something along the lines of It’s raining today and we won’t be able to lay out on this tropical beach we just arrived to.  Not for I crashed my boat coming into an inlet and now this is going to cost us a lot of time and money.  Let me see if there are any other ones that need to be scratched out before they bring impending doom to us or our boat.  Hmmm.    Rock You Like A Hurricane. Gone.  Under The Sea.  Could have been used for snorkeling but now it’s too risky.  Sunny With A Chance of Rainbows.  Wait, no.  That one needs to stay.  Now don’t think I’m superstitious enough to believe that a pending blog title caused our little accident.  That’s silly.  No, it was the cat’s fault.  Notice how this happened just after we got her?  Pretty sure she’s bad luck.  (Just kidding Georgie, mommy and daddy love you)

Now where was I?  Ah yes, the ill-fated results of our haul out and survey.  Things were looking hopeful this morning.  We’d had four days to get over the initial shock of the accident happening and after being talked up by many many people we started to believe what they told us.  It’s going to be fine.  Boats are strong, people are usually the wink link.  I’ve done much worse to my boat and the damage wasn’t that bad.  It will probably just be a few small scratches.  You’ll be back in the water before you know it.  We wanted to believe all this.  We needed to believe.  So when we woke up first thing in the morning and there was not a cloud in the sky and it was already warm enough to ditch the jacket, our minds were in the ‘perfect day’ sort of frame.  Sea Tow was ready to bring us over to a large slip and then the lift would pull us out of the water, we’d be washed down, and then set on blocks to have a proper survey done.   Easy peasy.

Things were going along smoothly and we were still optimistic until the hull was completely out of the water and the keel was exposed.  All along the seam was a long crack and on the fin were scrapes and scratches.  I won’t pretend like I know all things boats or the make-up of them because I don’t, but even I could tell at this point that it wasn’t good.  And the fact that Matt was off to the side shaking his head repeating  ”This isn’t good, this isn’t good” just confirmed it for me.  The bottom was given a quick wash and then we were brought over and set on some jack-stands set of to the side for us where a ladder was strapped on to get on and off the deck.

Taking a closer look at the outside we started to see other things wrong besides just the scrapes and cracks.  The rudder, although it still had it’s full range of motion, was cracked at the top, scraped on the bottom, and overall looked to be crooked.  The prop was not doing well either.  Besides the fact that it had our genoa line wrapped around it so tight that it now almost looked like a permanent part of the boat and needed to be cut off with a very sharp knife, the strut was twisted and chipping away from the faring compound that was holding it to the hull.    There were a few other things we could tell were wrong, but not knowing how to correctly put them in a paragraph I’ll just include them in a list in a minute instead.  (Just remember when I write this that I may get a few things wrong.  Luckily there is a person on this boat who actually and correctly does know all the issues, that person is just not me)

Getting to the inside of the boat with the surveyor we had emptied our garage (aft cabin) with all it’s contents out on the deck so all the parts of the engine and the stern would be accessible.  More accurately I’m told, things like the motor mount and stern tube.  Moving through the cabin we pulled out drawers to give access to the tabbing  (the part that connects the bulkheads with the hull) and where the bolts are that would remove the keel. Lastly the bilge, mast step, and remaining fiberglass tabbing was checked.  Throughout the survey we’d get sound effects like “Oh, that’s bad!”.   Or that sound where you suck in your breath because you just saw something you’d rather not have seen.  Then they were concluded with “Wow, you guys really took a pounding”.  Did we tell you about how spaghetti we had sitting under the floor boards burst out of it’s package because we hit so hard?  Yes, we really did take a pounding.  But there was also good news to come out of our surveyor’s mouth as well.  ”Wow, the damage should be a lot worse than it is.  There are so many things on here that should be broken but look to be fine.  You have a well built and sturdy boat.  You’re very lucky.”

Lucky as we can be I guess.  Had we just decided to turn around and follow another boat into the inlet or continue down the coast and skip St. Augustine we wouldn’t be in this mess at all, but hindsight is 20/20.  So it looks like we will not in fact be out of here in a few hours or even a few days.  Serendipity is going to require a lot of work.  Enough, it looks like, to even get insurance involved because there is no way we can fix it with what’s in our pocket and still continue the trip.  We contacted them today and hopefully and adjuster will be sent out soon because until then there will be no check cut to the boat yard and work can not start.  And even if work does start right away we’re looking at a two to four week stay here.

As promised, here is a list of things to be fixed, taken right from Matt’s text to his mom, so you know it’s correct:

To be fixed by the yard:

  • Transmission needs to be sent out and inspected
  • Rudder bushings are gone
  • Rudder shaft is bent
  • Drive shaft is bent
  • Strut is twisted
  • Motor mounts are shot
  • Lots of tabbing is broken
Other issues because of the grounding:
  • Anchor was lost and will need to be replaced
  • Dodger window was broken and will need to be replaced (and after all my hard work on it!)
  • Microwave took a nasty spill and will need to be replaced (yes, we are from the Hot Pocket generation, leave us alone)
  • Chalk on the starboard bow was broken
So there you have it.  We’ll know more once we have the report from the survey and I can give a breakdown of the actual work to be done to Serendipity.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but hey, at least the bilge is still working!
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The line that’s causing all this trouble.

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Chips on the rudder.

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Cutting the genoa line off the prop.

10.26.12 (1)

Throwback Thursday: Hurricane Holing

 

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Serendipity to sell and Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment tells about when we were stuck in Virginia as Hurricane Sandy came rolling through.  Our first big storm, but we prepared ourselves well and luckily had lots of warning.  Too bad the weather after this went from gorgeous fall days to ‘you’re going to freeze your butts off until you reach Florida’.  You can find the original post here.

 

Friday October 26, 2012

This morning we had to leave our sweet little spot in Jackson Creek to find a hurricane hole to settle in to for the next few days. Already having gone over it countless times with Rode Trip, the guys had found ‘the perfect secluded spot’ that we hoped no one else would know about although I was never shown the map on the tablet and had no idea the name of the location we were headed to except for it was off the Piankatank River. Making a quick stop at the marina we filled our diesel and topped off the water tanks which were getting low enough to worry us should we be stuck for longer than expected. After we had upped anchor to get to the marina another boat had just come in the channel and into the creek. Passing us by they asked if we were on the way to the marina to be pulled out or if we were on the move. We quickly replied as they passed by that we were on the move and they answered they were in line to pull out and wished us a safe journey. Then speaking to a few fellow boaters at the docks while self serving the fuel Matt got into a conversation with the other boats around and all of them were being pulled out as well. So far it seemed we were the only souls brave enough to stay in the water.

This of course to Matt meant that we surely were crazy and everyone else must know something if everyone else was being pulled out. We knew our insurance would cover a good portion of it and we shortly debated if we should follow the pack. Going to the office to pay for the fuel I made some small talk with the clerk on the situation since he looked like he had been around long enough to see a few of these roll in before. Knowing their schedule was jam packed already I asked if he thought it was wise for us to pull out at any of the marinas in the area, trying not to have his decision made by if they had time to squeeze in one more boat, and he asked where we were planning to go if we stayed in the water. “Up a river, up a Creek” was all I could tell him since that’s all I really knew,… “Hopefully someplace no one else knows about and it won’t be crowded”. I didn’t even give him a remote location and he replied with “The locals know. There isn’t a hurricane hole around here they don’t know about. And we’re telling anyone who asks, go to Wilton Creek, about a mile up the river here. You’ll be fine though.” Hmmm, his broadcasted location sounded eerily similar to what the guys described to me and if there was one thing I didn’t want it was a hurricane hole full of other boats.

Pushing ourselves out of the slip, we saw Rode Trip lifting their anchor and we all made our way back out the narrow and winding channel and toward Fishing Bay where we’d enter the Piankatank. Even though yesterday was sunny, warm, and beautiful, the temperature had taken a huge plummet and the wind whipped through cloudy skies. As soon as we were in open water again the wind jumped up to twenty-five knots and the bay became choppy. A light fog rolled off the tree tops and chilled the air even more than it already was. Although I knew better, it looked as if the hurricane was only a day behind us and all of a sudden didn’t feel so silly or over prepared for staking our location three days before the storm was predicted to come.

Making our way further up the river the protection of trees on each side calmed the wind down five to ten knots but it was still blustery and cold. Just using Rode Trip as our leader since I was still in the dark of where we were actually going, I scanned ahead on the chart plotter to survey each creek coming up. Most of them appeared to be pretty shallow, about five to six feet even at the entrance, so I assumed they were not the ones we’d be staying in. As we passed the last bend in the river before a low clearance bridge we would not be able to go under, there was only one creek left on the map. It was long and started out deep going down to five feet near it’s head. I scrolled further in on the chart. Name: Wilton Creek.

Now knowing for sure that this is where the marina was trying to send everyone and their mother I just hoped we had gotten there early enough to find a spot far up the river so if anyone else came in the creek they’d have to be behind us. After Kim & Scott’s stories the night before my worst fear was some unbenounced cruiser who’s anchor was dragging and they came careening right at us with not much we could do to stop them. Rounding the corner into the creek we saw no one. Moving further up the creek we began to see boats on docks but so far no one was anchored in the middle. Going up to the point where the charts showed a six foot depth our sounder was still showing nine feet and we figured we’d keep going until it showed seven.

Spacing ourselves widely apart, Rode Trip dropped their anchor just north of us and we dropped close to an inlet in the creek we thought would give us better wind protection. After backing down on the chain at a six to one scope though we realized that we were alarmingly close to shore and when more chain needed to be let out for higher winds, there was a good chance we might swing in to shore. We thought about moving to a few different locations but because of a dock on one side and and piece of land jutting out on the other we couldn’t see a good spot that would give us 360 degrees of swing with 100 feet of chain out and not bash into something somewhere.

To get a little perspective we dropped the dinghy and went to visit Rode Trip to see how their spot was and also check some weather forecast since they usually have internet on their tablet. Sitting on their deck and assessing the situation we found we were much further from them than we had originally thought and if we came a little further up there may be a spot in the middle of the creek that gave us the swing room we needed. Working the windlass the anchor came up covered in a thick heavy mud that seemed to have suctioned it down. Even though it smelled like crap I was happy to see the creek should be giving us good holding. Making sure to mark on the charplotter where we dropped anchor this time we backed down once more but still weren’t sure of our decision, based on the predicted wind directions for the next few days and where we may swing. Now we seemed too close for comfort to the jutting land but as I mentioned to Matt, we still had a few days before the storm to get a better prediction of winds and could still change location if necessary.

With that taken care of for the moment we started hurricane preparations with the assumption we could get up to sixty mile per hour winds in hour hole. The first thing to go was the head sail which we rolled up and stored below. Then jerrycans were moved from the deck into the cockpit. All lines were tightened and wrapped. The dodger and bimini would be coming down as well but we wanted to leave them up for another day just to get their protection as long as we could. In just over an hour we had done everything we felt we could do that day and moved on to other projects like sanding the toe rails at the foredeck.

While Matt sanded and I sat reading we had a visitor stop by, someone who lived in one of the houses on the creek who was out kayaking and came by to talk to us about the storm. He eased our fears when he said that usually not more than ten boats would ever be in the creek and not more than two or three ever came up as far as we were. That helped out tremendously as we were worried that there was too much space between us and Rode Trip and that some eager last minute sailor would try and squeeze in. As we talked to the guy a little longer he showed us where his house and dock were and said we’d be more than welcome to tie our dinghy up there if we wanted to get out and stretch our legs and if we needed a ride into town to the grocery store, ect., he’d be more than happy to take us. Then we found out he also had a Sabre 34 and the two guys went on about hull designs and specs while I smiled and nodded.

In the late afternoon Rode trip came over for quick use of our internet and we all went over weather reports and what’s predicted in the area. It sounds like the rain will start tomorrow, wind will begin to pick up on Sunday, and the storm will hit or come close to us on Monday. We looked at grib files for the next few days and also checked out information on NOAA about storm surges in our area for past storms. I think if it’s four feet or less we’ll be fine. All that was left to do was plan a time to get together and drink hurricanes (a combination of rums and fruity mixers) that Stephanie had stocked up on in town. We decided that Saturday would probably be the latest any of us would feel safe leaving our boats unattended and made plans to get together the next night. Stephanie and I like to joke though that we’ll end up doing a girl boat and a boy boat so us girls can hang out and play games while the guys talk boats and weather. I’m not sure if either of the guys feel good about leaving us alone on a boat during a storm. I think I’d have to second that motion.

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Throwback Thursday: The Roughest Passage You’ll Ever Make

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Serendipity to sell and Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment brings about our very first buddy boats of our trip.  The night before this original post we had just met Scott and Kim of s/v Anthyllide, and Brian and Stephanie of s/v Rode Trip.  Not only are we still good friends with all of these cruisers, but we buddy boated with Brian and Stephanie from this very first day all the way down to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cuba, and Cayman before finally parting ways.

 

Saturday September 22, 2012

Today we took the Cape May Channel to Delaware Bay and up the whole length to the C&D Canal, which connects Delaware Bay to Chesapeake Bay. Yesterday morning Matt threw the Waterway Guide in my lap and told me to read up a little on the area. This was the first sentence of the chapter, “The waters of Delaware Bay are considered by many boaters to be rough, tedious and inhospitable…..notorious for building up short, choppy seas quickly…..the skills of the navigator are likely to be tested here”. After reading that calming description of the area I started searching for every little inlet possible for anchorage along the way should we need to pull off.

Just as scared as us to make the trip were our new friends Brian and Stephanie on Rode Trip as we decided to buddy boat together. Before we could get out on the water though we all got up bright and early to make our way to the yard sale at Utch’s marina, something all of us had seen advertiesed the previous day. No one had any kind of idea what would actually be sold there but it sounded interesting enough to make the trip to shore.

Tying up under the docks at the marina once again we walked out to see tables set up everywhere with everything you could think of. There were boat parts, fishing gear, and even a little pink acoustic guitar. It must be a pretty popular even every year because even a local radio station was there covering it. We didn’t have a ton of time to browse since we still wanted to up anchor by 9:30, but we all seemed to find something we wanted or needed. Matt and I picked up a couple of fishing lures, a gaff hook, and a flotation cushion since the storm in NYC had ripped our Lifesling right off the back of our boat. We didn’t even notice it was gone until we were on our way to Sandy Hook. Spending $125 to replace it didn’t sound too tempting at the moment, but a $3 cushion would at least keep us Coast Guard legal. Brian and Stephanie also did well at the sale, picking up lots of fishing supplies themselves and even an only used once 5 hp outboard for their dinghy.

Dropping them back off at their boat we pulled up the anchor and got ready for what we thought would be the roughest passage we’d ever make. Getting out of the Cape May Channel and into Delaware Bay it was a sunny morning, winds were around 15 knots, and waves were 1-2 feet. It didn’t look bad, but I was waiting for something to come up on us any second. We both raised our mainsails while in the channel and once we were in the open bay Matt and I set a course for a straight shot up the bay while Rode Trip was quickly disappearing off to our port side. So much for buddy boats.

While cruising by ourselves now we were tuned into channel 16 on the VHF when we heard our name called although I couldn’t make out the name of who was hailing us. Answering anyway I found out it was Scott that we had met the previous night and he was just calling to see how our trip was going so far and where we were staying for the night. He mentioned how they were planning on going all the way up the bay and through the canal to end at a river just on the other side. Our buddy boat plans for the night had consisted of anchoring at Reedy Island just before the canal, but after listening to Scott it sounded like winds would be shifting to where the island would no longer have a good holding for us overnight. Then finding out the C&D was only 12 miles long we told Scott that him and Kim could probably expect to see us next to them that night.

Going back to our awesome cruising (more on that in a minute) we heard Scott hailing Rode Trip, probably to relay the same message. There seemed to be some problems in communication though where Rode Trip could hear Scott but he could not hear them. Since we could hear both parties just fine I thought I’d hail Rode Trip (who was still barely in our sight) and just relay the message myself. Only problem was not only could I not remember his boat’s name but I couldn’t make it out each time he had repeated it on the radio. Matt cocked his head to the side and offered “I think it’s Angel Eyes” although both of us still didn’t think that sounded 100% right. So while talking to Rode Trip I’d say “I was just talking to Angeleyes” and smash it together really quick so no one would be able to tell I was saying it wrong, especially if Kim and Scott were still listening, “and they said they were going all the way through the canal tonight, so we were thinking of following Angeleyes, what do you think?”. They agreed as well and didn’t correct my mispronunciation.  Later we found out it was Anthyllide.  Ooops!

Back to our awesome cruising. I know a lot of it has to do with the current and we’re not rock stars like this on our own, but we were once again sailing at 6.5 knots with only 10-15 knots of wind. The ride was smooth and easy. I was able to move around below and even give Matt a haircut in the cockpit (bad idea, could not contain the hair, it was everywhere). When we were 2/3rds of the way through the bay we began messing with the sheets and the course a little. The speed went up to 7, then 7.5, and then 8. For a good 45 minutes we were steadily cruising at 8.4 knots. With only 14 knots of wind off our back quarter. This was seriously the best day of sailing we’ve ever had. I felt like flipping the finger to my guide book and then dancing a little jig on it just to show it how wrong it was.

To be fair though we have heard these waters can get very rough, but they’re usually only that way when making a southerly passage. One of the reasons I was also so happy with our new speed was that we were finally catching back up to Rode Trip. We found out on the VHF conversation that they had caught a good current and followed it into the marked channel in the center of the bay, going out and then cutting back in. We were going in a straight line and somehow they were beating us. In a 32 ft West Sail. It logistically shouldn’t be possible. So as we were getting closer to the end an they had to cut back in I would try to calculate the distance between us to see if we’d come out on top. We did not. Our buddy boat beat us to the C&D, but not by much.

Putting down our sails and throwing on the engines we continued to ride nice currents through the canal as the sun was setting. Off in the distance I could see dark stormy clouds and had heard on a weather report there would be a chance of rain that night. If there would be a storm or high winds we didn’t want to be in an exposed area and radioed Rode Trip about a little cove we found just passed the river that Anthyllide was planning to anchor in. They declined and said they still planned on going to the river.

Getting out of the C&D it was now dark and we still followed behind Rode Trip, following the red and green buoys in the river to our chosen area on the chart plotter. With winds having picked up to 25 knots now they also realized the river may not be a good place to stay and radioed to say they’d be tucking into a cove just before the one we were planning on. Less than two miles before either of us could get to our destination the rain came, and it came in force. It went from not a single drop to pounding down, sting you in the eyes kind of rain within seconds. Even though it was dark you could see it coming across the water like a curtain.

I didn’t mind traveling in it since the motor was on and with the river mostly keeping a straight course the rest of the way it was possible to keep the autopilot on and take shelter under the dodger. The only thing that did worry me was anchoring in this mess. It was hard enough for us to anchor in the dark and try to read Matt’s and signals from the bow, but this was blinding and deafening. And then I remembered the only thing good about these kinds of punishing storms is they’re usually gone as quick as they come. Just as we were pulling into our cove the rain had stopped and we set down the anchor with ease. Maybe I had spoken about this being our best day of sailing a little too quickly. Although if we want to get into technicalities, the sails were down when the storm came. Still the best day of sailing ever.

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Found our buddy boat across the bay!

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Our back end looks like it has a little too much weight on it, and not just because Matt’s been eating half my meals.

(Photo courtesy of Rode Trip)

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Storms coming over the C&D Canal.

9.14.12

Throwback Thursday: Finding and then Occupying Wall Street

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Serendipity to sell and Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment takes us off the water and to one of mine and Matt’s favorite places in the world, Manhattan.  Honestly, until we hit Peru with our backpacks this still topped the list as one of the favorite places we’ve ever been.  When I was ready to chicken out of our Atlantic crossing last year, part of it was because I was longing to spend a summer here with the boat.

This city has a spell on us, and for mine and Matt’s first time here together we sure packed in a lot to our first day.  Which mean, another novel for you to read.  Enjoy!

You can find the original post here.

 

Friday September 12, 2012

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We’re on Wall Street!

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we blew half our monthly budget for September by getting the mast put back up and all the things that went along with it. So you might be asking yourself How are they going to afford to stay in New York City? Marinas in the city are around $3/foot per night and even Jersey is at least $2. The only way we could afford it is because at the 79th St Boat Basin they offer transient mooring balls for $30/night. This we could squeeze into the budget.

Our plans were set to stay three nights, but upon reading a friend’s blog (Maryl @Water Music) the previous day, she mentioned how they tired to get a ball but were kicked off and ended up having to pay the exorbitant fees for a slip at the marina. We were in a panic. There was no way afford that but also didn’t want to skip the city. Worst part about reading the blog as well is she didn’t mention why they were kicked off. In a fury I was typing a comment on her post to see if she could reply to us about what the issue was. There was no response that night. (They didn’t have internet at the time)

Still departing this morning as we normally would have we got a message back about where they had their problem. It turns out there are only about 10 transient balls, all yellow, and the rest were for permanent owners. At the time they had grabbed a white one and since all the yellow balls were taken they were forced into a slip if they wanted to stay. We were praying there would be at least one yellow ball open when we got there. Armed with this new knowledge, we were only an hour from the basin when we saw a few boats begin to come up behind us in the river. What if they were going to the basin? What if they beat us and stole the only open ball? We were not going to let that happen.

Throwing all of our power behind the engine we zoomed ahead and left them in our dust. Getting close enough to the basin now to start making out some of the moorings I was sent to the bow with a boat hook and a pair of binoculars to keep an eye out for anything open. At first all I could see were white ones, and then a little further down I could start to see yellow ones here and there. All of them had boats attached and I was getting a little discouraged . Suddenly one of the boat attached to a transient ball swung to the side and revealed an open one behind it. Matt saw it at the same time I did and kept going at it with full power even though there were no boats near us anymore. Coming up behind it I swung the boat hook in the water and grabbed the lines and attached them to our bow. I was so excited that I started jumping on the deck and pumping my fists into the air. We had managed to get the only open mooring.

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Coming up on the George Washington Bridge.  Very beautiful architectural design.

Calling into the marina office we let them know we had arrived and quickly got ready so we could go in to pay them and then tour the city. As we were standing in the office to fill out paper work and check in I looked at a small map on the wall with the vicinity of the basin to areas in the city. Looking a little closer I realized that we were only a few blocks from Central Park. Let me tell you right now, I can be a little blonde sometimes and my geography can way off. In my head I was thinking that Streets and Avenues in NYC were the same thing and that 5th Ave would be prime real estate. So with that logic and being on 79th I figured we’d be waaaay out in a dodgy section of town. Not the case at all, we were sitting on the Upper West Side.

Once we got out and started walking the third street we hit was Broadway. Also sitting on the corner there (of 72nd & Broadway) was Gray’s Papaya, on the list of seriously three things I wanted to hit up while in the city, one of the others being Central Park. Since it was lunch time and we had not eaten all day I figured it was fate…except one thing. Due to an issue with our debit card we haven’t been able to take out cash since we left, and had literally $5 in our pockets. We assumed everything but street vendors would take credit but that is not the case. Sadly Grays Papaya would only happen if we found a way to get more cash.

Continuing our walk down 72nd St we went a few more blocks down and dead ended into Central Park West Ave. with a convenient entrance right into the park. We must have looked like tourist to the guys sitting on rickshaws who wanted to take us around the park and pounced on us as soon as we walked up, but may have passed for natives as a group of tourist asked us how to get to Strawberry Fields. We took a walk all the way around the pond while I searched for The Boat House which happened to be in a completely different area, and while walking narrow paths and ducking under trees it sort of had a zoo atmosphere complete with exhibits such as squirrels mating. Wanting to get out into the concrete jungle we left the park and figured we’d still have plenty of time to see it. Stepping back on to CPW we walked further south while keeping an eye out for anyone famous. No sightings in the Central Park area.

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Our mooring was directly on the opposite side of this building.

When the park and the avenue ended we were dropped out right by Broadway and figured that would be a good street to continue on. Part of it was wandering and taking in sights and the other part was a search for food. I was hungry enough that I wanted food NOW, I didn’t care if it was McDonald’s or Burger King. Matt was stuck on the idea that we needed to eat somewhere we didn’t have back at home. And it still had to take credit and still be inexpensive. The search was on.

We’d look up and down streets for anything new and abruptly the sidewalks opened and there were crowds of people in the middle of the street. We had just stumbled into Times Square. Neither of us had searched it beforehand or knew where it was, so it was a fun little bit of serendipity that we happened upon it. It was the middle of a bright sunny day, but the lights from billboards were still blazing in every direction. Standing around and taking it all in we promised we’d have to see it again at night. But right now food was still a top priority on my mind. Going just a few block further from Times Square we found a Potbelly Sandwich Shop and since neither of us has been to one we rushed in the door.

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After getting back on the street it was 3:30 in the afternoon and we still didn’t have any real plans for the day. Matt really wanted to see Wall Street and searched on his phone to see how far it was, about 4 miles. My legs were already a little tired but I couldn’t think of another time we’d be this far through midtown and resolved that we may as well keep going. When the street numbers began to fall off I assumed that meant we were getting close. Nope, gotta keep walking through Tribeca and Greenwich Village and a bunch of other places that I originally had no idea where they were located. Today was a lesson in New York geography for sure. Still not exactly sure where we were going we dead ended into a construction zone for the new Freedom Towers being constructed. I remember coming here with my parents 14 years ago when the Twin Towers were around and I’ll stare up to the top of them getting dizzy. I’m really glad something so beautiful is being raised as a memorial.

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One of the new Freedom Towers going up.

Crossing a freeway and then realizing it was taking us in the opposite direction we wanted to be in we crossed back and landed at the World Financial Center. Trying to get our bearing on the Google Map on our phone we decided to take a short cut through the building. Even though it was extremely hot out and I had just been wishing for a cold beer the smell of Starbucks wafted through the area and I could not have been craving anything more at the moment. I miss easy coffee. Passing the Starbucks by we exited the double doors and found ourselves in front of a marina. A very fancy one. It was The North Cove, the most exclusive mega yacht marina in Manhattan located in Battery City Park. Also one of the things I had wanted to see in NYC, although I originally had no idea where it was (again). Another bit of serendipity for the day.

Taking a few minutes to amble through the area we took in all the mega yachts that we’d probably be seeing again in the Caribbean, although just like now, will probably have no association with the owners or even the crew. Then walking out to the waterfront you could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. If I could have spent the rest of the day here I would have but Matt was pointing at his watch and reminding me we needed to get a move on. We hand’t found Wall Street yet, and there was still the walk back of about 8 miles.

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North Cove Marina at Battery Park.  (No mega yachts shown, although there were a few)

On a real mission now just to get to Wall Street we became those tourist with map in our hand, matching street names and pointing in the direction we needed to go. One thing I did not want to do while in the city was stand out as a tourist, but at this point I didn’t care anymore. The sooner we found Wall Street the sooner we could start the long walk back and rest again. Leaving The North Cove we were on a street that housed the 9/11 Memorial and there were people lined up around the block. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that we were there only three days after the anniversary. Again, if we had time it’s something we really would have liked to do, but it was so late in the afternoon I doubt we could have still gotten in that day anyway.

Continuing on with our map we managed to get turned around about five more times but eventually made it to Wall Street. Speaking of anniversaries, we were there almost exactly one year after the Occupy Wall Street movement. We wandered around for a little bit and took note of the sights, and also how 90% of the men leaving the buildings seemed to owned a nice suit that fit them right. Come on guys, you’re supposed to be the creme de la creme!! Next thing to do on the list was find the Charging Bull. We knew it had to be in the area but still managed to get turned down about three wrong streets before finding our way according to Google Maps. But even when they said we were right on top of it we couldn’t see anything. Just as we were about to get really frustrated with the map a truck pulled out of the way and presented the bull right behind it. As things always are in movies, we thought it would be a lot bigger but were still excited to see it. There was a large area fenced off around it which allowed people to line up and then stand in front of the bull to have their photo taken. We didn’t want to go through that process and just took a few photos of ourselves with swarms of people behind us. Oh well, still proof we were there!

At this point we were finally allowed to move in a direction closer to the boat instead of away from it. We didn’t take the same street down as we took up, but for the life of me I can not remember which one it was (and I think it was Broadway we took almost all the way down). Luckily at this point my legs were starting to go numb and the walk back wasn’t feeling as bad. At some point we jumped on 5th Ave and went through a more trendy area than we had come down on. There were also signs on the street advertising two slices of pizza and a pop for $5 and my mouth was watering. Cash only though….. of course. A few more streets down we were waiting at a light to cross the road and I looked over and saw a booth that was in the same shape as the Flatiron building. Then I looked further over and saw the intersection was in a Y shape, which tipped me off and I looked up. Yup, we had stumbled across the Flatiron building itself, one of the things that would have been cool to see but wasn’t in my list of must haves. This was turning into the best day ever.

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Remaining on a northerly course we took a quick side trip to give a call to our bank (cash issue should be resolved in 3-5 days) and then hopped back on 5th. A few more streets up and we floundered onto yet another New York landmark, Rockefeller Center. This was a very fun stop for both of us as we are completely in love with the NBC series, 30 Rock. We wandered around the area looking as touristy as possible and even went inside 30 Rockefeller Center for a better look. I kept waiting for Tina Fey to walk through the lobby so I could be that annoying fan that jumps out and tells her how much I loved her book and her show but she never appeared.

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Really ready to start getting back we followed 5th Ave until it hit Central Park. Stopping into a restaurant really quick we grabbed a few slices of pizza and a beer before hitting the road again. We had been walking for at least six hours at this point (I’ve taken out the time we used sitting for lunch and dinner) and I just wanted to crawl on the boat and into bed. Matt had other ideas though and wanted to walk down the East side of Central Park so he could get a look at the Guggenheim. I don’t know how he talked me into it but I agreed to follow him, my feet trudging every step of the day. Before we could even get 10 blocks up I was starting to think my body would fail me and contemplated walking through the park to get back home. We hadn’t felt any sense of danger at all yet through the day, but looking into the dark shady area, neither of us wanted to chance it. I thought I had resigned myself to at least five more miles of walking when we came up to what looked like a well lit path through the park. I looked at Matt but he still shook his head no.

Getting only 10 steps further we heard loud music coming from that area and turned to see what I was. I begged Matt to let us go in, stating that the music probably had a large crowd around it and there was a very small chance we’d get mugged. He finally caved and we headed into the park. There were people scattered here and there on blankets on the ground, enjoying the weekend with their friends. It was a beautiful night out, clear and in the low 70′s now, and I could see why they’d want to be out. With the music getting louder we followed the path and could start to see what looked like an outdoor concert hall. Remembering posters we had seen all around town that day we realized that it was a Ben’s Fold Five concert. Right out in the park. Although we couldn’t see the stage we could still hear everything perfectly and took a seat on the cement next to a grassy knoll where others came out to enjoy the music. What were the odds that we would find something like this? We must have gotten there really late because after sitting through two songs (didn’t hear Brick) the concert ended and people started milling out of the area. Following their lead we made our way through the rest of the park full of crowds and feeling completely safe.

Forgetting what street we had originally come out on that morning we just went down 79th Street all the way to the Hudson to try and get back to the basin. After crossing over a loop in the street that didn’t have any sidewalk we found stairs going down and were dropped right into the middle of a very busy restaurant housed in front of the basin. Weaving our way through the patrons we made our way out of the outdoor area the only way we knew how, and that was walking through the middle of it to get to the pedestrian road lining the river. Jumping in the dinghy we made it back to the boat just after 10:00.

Wanting to celebrate the occasion of making it to the city we pulled some seats up to the bow and I cracked open our Kraken to enjoy a nite cap while taking in the city lights from the boat. We had been gone nine hours overall and walked over 20 miles. In addition to the areas listed we also saw Parsons School for Design, NYU, and so many others that I can’t even remember anymore. There were a few celebrity sightings that day, Russel Simmons for me and I think we took in so many sights in one day that we could leave in the morning and I’d be satisfied. All I can say is I love you New York City. I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

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Throwback Thursday: And So It Begins

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Serendipity to sell and Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work.   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So, for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

The second installment goes back to cover our first day as cruisers.  Leaving our home port for the unknown and what we thought at the time would be a 4 year circumnavigation.  Back when 20 knots of wind and 5 knots of speed used to scare the crap out of me.  Oh how things have changed.

You can find the original post here.

Sunday August 12, 2012

You’d think that the night before departure my nerves would be running like crazy and I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep, but somehow I managed to sleep soundly through the night and was even disappointed when the alarm went off at 5:30 am this morning.  It may have been that we had friends on board past midnight, forcing them to drink all our beer to empty our fridge and lighten the boat.  Surprisingly there wasn’t the mass excitement you normally get before a big trip, it just felt like we were getting ready for another day sail.  Just while it was still dawn.  Trying to clean up some of the last minute clutter we organized the cabin slightly and then went into the dinghy dock where Matt’s mom and step-dad were waiting to say goodbye to us and bring a few things we couldn’t fit in the car the day before.  With hugs and photos we said goodbye and Matt’s mom joked through her tears that we better like our new lifestyle because our bedroom was going to become a scrap-booking room that day.  Putting the rest of the belongings in the dinghy we loaded up and got ready to push off so Matt’s mom could take photos of us leaving the channel.

Looking around the marina for the last time I was sad to say goodbye to what had been our home for the past few years but also excited to finally get underway.  While motoring out to the channel I went below and fixed us a mimosa with some sparkling wine a friend had got us so we could celebrate the occasion as we passed through the channel one last time.  Navigating through the dozens of fishermen that thought it would be the perfect place to troll we made it near the mouth of Lake Michigan and waved to Chris and Jack at the lighthouse.  And as soon as we were in the waters of Lake Michigan I may or may not have dropped my phone in the water, hurtling at full speed directly toward the lighthouse.  No use for that thing now.

Getting into the lake the water was calm and glassy and there was no wind.  Leaving the motor on we set the autopilot for north and Matt took a nap in the cockpit while I kept a lookout.  After an hour we switched although I of course took my nap in the comfort of the v-berth below.  The engine was kicking warm air through the heater and it was nice and toasty down there.  When I woke up I found Matt busy working on reefing lines on deck, getting them ready so that we’d be able to run all three from the cockpit.  I sat and looked on, handing tools here and there and trying to soak up the sun that was rising over us.

Finally turning off the engine around 2:00 we raised the spinnaker to do some actual sailing.  There must have been some lines twisted in there somewhere and what ensued was a hectic 10 minutes of untying and retying lines, twisting sail cloth, and making my hands raw from pulling on lines (I have gloves but was not wearing them at the time).  Once we finally had it properly set we were exhausted and retreated to the cockpit for a lunch of cold pizza.  Soon after it became overcast and the temperature took a dramatic dip.  I had already changed from a fleece to a heavier jacket but this was cold enough to make me take the blanket from our bed and wrap ourselves in it.  At this point neither of us felt like being productive and spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit hiding from the wind.  I did put my bibs on after just a little bit which helped dramatically with the cold but not with the laziness.  When dinner time came near I thought a nice hearty oven cooked meal would make us feel better and started pulling out ingredients for what I have coined ‘The Jackie Meal’, something she had fed us on her boat a few weeks before.  It’s basically a tin foil dinner with slices of cooked sausage, meatballs, zucchini, squash, potatoes (which we substituted for onions), sprinkled with seasoning salt and garlic powder, topped with a spoon of butter and wrapped in tin foil.  So delicious.  I could smell it cooking in the oven long before we pulled it out and it completely hit the spot.

Dousing the spinnaker as the sun was going down I prepared myself for bed since Matt had the first shift on watch.  This was the first time I allowed myself to get a little scared about what we were doing and the vast waters we’d be traveling and I’d be alone on watch that night on a very big lake.  Winds were picking up and I was worried something terrible might go wrong in the middle of the night.  I just had to keep reminding myself that I knew what I was doing (for the most part) and I’d have Matt there to help me if I needed it.  It still took me awhile to fall asleep but when I did get up for my shift the winds had calmed down to about 10 knots at our stern and we were following along calmly at a steady 3.5 knots.  Oh, I could totally handle this!  As we switched the harness over to me I sat in the cockpit, bundled up in the blanket that was still up there and kept a lookout for any lights on the water.  Most of them were from shore but after an hour on watch I saw some directly in front of the bow and even after I’d do a good sweep out the side of the fabric of the bimini they did not look to be getting any closer.  I warned Matt about them when he woke up for his next shift and I went back below to quickly fall asleep this time.

Waking up again at 7 am the sun should have been coming up but alas it was clouds a second day in a row.  Being filled in on the mysterious lights I found out there were not actually boats but also shore.  We had been headed at a point that jutted out in the lake, and although Matt had been aware of this the whole time and planning on changing course before then you just happened to be able to see the lights from miles and miles away.  Taking my spot under the blanket a second time I watched the sky turn from dark to gray as we came upon one of my favorite places in the world, the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  This day though they looked dark and dreary and not as dreamy as I remembered them and definitely not living up to the title of The Most Beautiful Place in America that they had been given the year before.  I was a little disappointed but just had to tell myself that there are going to be so many beautiful things along the way that I can’t be put out by one cloudy day.  And I did still have the climb to the top of the lighthouse at South Manitou Island to look forward to, clouds or not.

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Leaving the dinghy docks.

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Last day at the mooring.

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Breakfast of champions!

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‘Bon Voyage!’

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The ‘Jackie’ Meal.

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Confined to the cockpit.

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Our first stop!

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Throwback Thursday: Survival of the Solstace

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Serendipity to sell and Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work.   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So, for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

For the first installment I will take you back to six weeks before we left to begin cruising with Serendipity.  This post is very special to me because it explains how I first my my now boating bestie, Jackie of Skelton Crew.  Incidentally, now that a few years have passed, Jackie and her husband Ron are about six weeks away from leaving on their own cruising adventure.  But once upon a time we were back in their spot and they hadn’t even bought their cruising boat yet.

So sit back and relax and prepare yourself for a nice long story.  No, seriously.  I used to write frickin’ novels.

 

Wednesday June 20, 2012

This was a really exciting week for me to get out racing again, not only because I had missed last week but because one of our blog followers who lives close to the Grand Rapids area was going to come join me.  Jackie was one of the first people to like our Facebook page when I started it this winter and introduced herself stating that she and her husband were looking to go cruising in a few years as well.  We did a lot of corresponding through Facebook and comments on the website, and when she mentioned that racing might be a good thing for her to get into as well I told her she needed to come join me some night.

So after months of talking online we planned to meet up at a McDonalds on the way to Muskegon where we would carpool to the marina and she could finally experience all the fun that I kept bragging about.  When I walked into the restaurant she wasn’t hard to spot (partially because she was the only one in there) and immediately we started talking like we were long time friends just picking back up where we last dropped off.  After ordering a yummy iced coffee, just got hooked on those after visiting AZ, we loaded my car up with the beer she brought and made our way out to Muskegon without having to fight any traffic this time.  Along the way we discussed my trip, her trip, and all the different blogs we follow which turned out to be the exact same ones.  We also found out we listen to the same morning radio station and have a lot of the same interests.  It’s like we were twins separated at birth and finally got to meet for the first time.

Since we were making such good time on the ride there, when I pulled the car into Torresen’s I brought it back to the slip they had put Serendipity in while trying to find a new mooring for us.  We got out for a second to look around and while we didn’t go on deck or below I promised Jackie that I’d have to have her and her husband out sometime for a ride before Matt and I left the next month.  Looking over at the yacht club and realizing we should probably get over there I parked the car and we grabbed our stuff and walked the quarter mile down the road to MYC.

Walking down the dock to Island Dream I had Tom and Shannon waiving at me from on deck as usual and Mike and John were busy moving around getting all of the lines run.  After stepping aboard and introducing Jackie, the first words out of Tom’s mouth were “Would you be ok with not racing tonight?”.  Hmmmm…..the one time I bring out a friend specifically for the racing experience and we might not go.  I didn’t know if he meant that we’d just be sitting at the dock all night, but he explained that the winds were pretty high and we were short crewed and maybe a pleasure cruise on Lake Michigan would be better for us that night.  He also hinted that this would give me the opportunity to take the helm or handle some lines since we’d just be out for fun and not keeping a specific course.

I looked at Jackie and we both shook our heads ok.  Besides, it was the official first day of summer and we had two coolers packed with beer.  It was after we agreed to this that we found out the crew was split with half wanting to pleasure cruise and half wanting to race.  Part of me was still hoping that we would race just because winds were so high that it would be really exciting, and I could also show Jackie what a race was like.  While her and I stood on deck trying to stay out of Mike’s way while he still ran lines, the census from Tom came back that we would actually be racing that night.  Until a shackel broke which meant we weren’t, and then it was fixed so we were back on again.

I hontestly had no clue what was happening with the on again off again race and it wasn’t until John and Mike were busy uncleating us from the dock that I had any clue on if we were even going to leave or not. Jackie and I sat up on deck with Shannon for a minute until Tom said that because of the high winds and the small crew that he wanted everyone back in the cockpit. We all made our way back and found seats spreading from one side to the other.

Many of the other boats were already on the water with their sails raised and would dash back and forth from one end of the lake to the other. Heading out to where the course started we were downwind so the wind coming from behind us didn’t feel too strong but when we turned on a beam reach once we had reached the area of the start the winds were hitting us right on and it felt like they had picked up 20 miles an hour. Mike had the spinnaker all set to run while we were at the dock but with the whitecaps rolling over the water it didn’t look like we’d be using it that night. Turning ourselves into the wind the mainsail was raised and while most of us on board (myself included) were wanting to get the headsail unfurled Tom thought that conditions were too strong to let any of it out, but after Mike and John worked on him a little he agreed to let it out about 1/3 of the way.

Passing by the Torresen’s boat we found our division would be starting first and Shannon was ready with her stopwatch when the first horn blew with our five minute warning. With John being our tactician that night he would tell Tom when to tack and where we wanted to be  per the countdown and it somehow worked out that when the horn blew for the start of our division we were the first ones out of the gate, so to speak. There were no close calls of anyone hitting us that night but I pointed for Jackie to turn around and we watched all the other boats in our division fight for spots and come very close to knocking into each other.

Because many of them were sailing with a main and a head it didn’t take too long for others to start passing us by. Without any work assigned on the lines Jackie and I sat aft with Tom near the helm and I would point out to her the things I actually did know were happening. Like when two minutes after the starting horn about three boats that were on our course tacked off into a completely different direction and that the first marker we were headed toward was probably close to a straight line forward from our starting spot and that while we’d all eventually have to tack that direction anyway these boats were doing it early because they most likely didn’t start on a good course or figured they could get better speed going in a different direction. I wasn’t sure if it was right but it sounded smart and I’m pretty sure I actually did impress her as one by one all the boats on our course ultimately changed to that direction as well. Maybe I could even be tactician next time. Although I’m sure all my directions would be ‘Oh, everyone else is tacking? Ok, we should probably tack too.’.

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The gusts of wind were blowing on us hard as we made our way upwind and we were probably heeling near 25% most of the time. I looked back at Jackie to make sure she was doing alright and found that Tom had given her a job as photographer. This worked out very well as Tom loved to get action photos of the races but would always get yelled at by John for taking pictures while racing, and it also worked out for me because I left my phone down in my bag below deck and there were not any good moments to run down and go get it.  Finally decent photos of the race I can share from a real camera.  She was just sitting there with a smile on her face, taking pictures with one hand and hanging on for dear life with the other.

When it was time to do tacks Mike, John and Shannon would work the lines while Jackie easily slid from one side of the stern to the other and I would try and find the best opening, doding between people and the wheel and usually slipping on some line along the way. Not my most graceful race ever but I always eventually made my way back over to the high side. As we neared the first marker a few of the division 1 boats that started after us had now passed us and were also rounding the mark and throwing up their spinnakers. I was very surprised to see them using their kites in winds that were gusting over 30 knots but I figured these guys were the pros and knew what they were doing.

Shortly after we rounded the mark ourselves and didn’t have to do more than just tack we began to watch the destruction unfold of the boats ahead of us. One of the division 1 boats that had been flying their spinnaker had now broached and were having a hard time getting righted. They couldn’t turn themselves in a direction that would bring them upright again and their spinnaker was getting lost underwater. It was like a trainwreck where you couldn’t take your eyes away and of course Tom and I were shouting ‘Jackie, get the camera, get the camera!!’. Luckily these guys do still know what they’re doing at it was only a few moments before they were able to get their spinnaker back on board and were fully upright again.

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Also on our downwind run we were treated to one of the smaller (but much faster) race boats, a Melges I think, with one of the crew members yelling and screaming about how the spinnaker was not raised properly. I think I learned three new curse words while listening to him. Have I mentioned how happy I am to be on a boat with Tom? As we sailed safely and slowily downwind there were a few more moments of other boats having out more sail then they couldhandle. Every strong gust of wind seemed to take at least one more boat down with it, usually just for a moment before they gained control and were back on their way.

There was a point where we rounded the second marker to begin heading back up wind and just moments after we had passed it Mike was looking behind to a few division 1 boats that were about to round. I’m guessing they had gotten too close for comfort and one had to quickly veer way to avoid a collision. The boat that did veer must have also had an accidental jibe because as Mike described it, all the guys who were riding the high side were all of a sudden in the water because it very suddenly became the low side.  Probably a second or two later they popped back up and continued racing which fortunately meant that no one fell overboard.  It also didn’t take very long for these two division 1 boats to accelerate right past us as well as most of the other boats in the race.  By the time we had gone around the course once more and were now on our last upwind stretch toward the finish there was absolutely no one behind us.  I think a number of other boats had dropped out due to the strong winds or possible damage to sails, so it felt good just to know that we would finish at all.

While we still had almost half of the last leg to complete the only other boat racing now besides us had crossed the finish and we wondered if the Torresen’s boat would even wait for us to cross as well before upping anchor and head back in.  I guess sometimes if the last boat is still a long way out they don’t always wait for it before packing it in.  As we tacked back and forth the last few hundred yards that little red boat was still waiting for us and when we passed between it and the marker we got our horn to signify we had completed.  There weren’t a whole lot of cheers on Island Dream but I think everyone was just tired and worn out.

Instead of heading back to the docks as usual we hugged the windward shore where winds weren’t blowing as hard and opened the cooler to enjoy a drink on the water before going back.  I tried to get Jackie to have an official end of the race drink, a Lime-A-Rita, but she said she wasn’t much of a tequila drinker and stuck with the Land Shark she brought although she did at least taste mine and said it was a lot better than she thought it would be.  Tom let me take over the helm and we cruised slowly past the mooring field that should have been housing Serendipity by this time and I didn’t get to show her off as I had wanted.

After performing a pretty nice tack we turned the other direction to mosey in the direction of the setting sun, enjoying that this was the longest day of the year.  I do love Michigan and the fact that the longest day of the year comes with a 9:30 sunset, keeping the sky bright until after 10.  I think that will be one of the things I miss most the further south we head.  Steering Island Dream closer to the yacht club Tom took back over the wheel for docking and parked us in a spot that was getting the last bit of sunlight before it fell behind the trees.  Everyone besides John was in no rush to get home and squeezed in the cockpit for more conversation and beer as Pete stood in the companionway to play bartender.  Tom’s wife Denise also joined us from where she had been watching the last of the race at the yacht club and pulled out the cheese and crackers she had packed for an after race snack.  Much more popular than the ultimate chocolate chip cookies I had brought which became slightly melted after sitting in my car for an afternoon in 90 degree heat.  I picked the cheese and crackers too.

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So nice to finally meet Jackie in person.

When everyone finished their second (or first) round Tom announced it was time to take the boat back to the mooring and wanted to know who was coming with and who was staying behind.  Being a big tall guy, Mike backed down saying he didn’t want to overcrowd the dinghy and he’d wait for us at the yacht club.  Shannon and Pete stayed back with him which left me, Tom and Jackie to moor the boat.  Since I’m usually pretty handy with a boat hook having to use one myself all summer anyway I asked where it was so I could be ready at the bow to grab the mooring lines.  After I was told it was in the aft berth I searched through the cushions and sails but did not see the hook.  Being notorious for missing things right in front of my face I had Jackie look as well and when she came up empty handed I took over the wheel so Tom could look as well but with no luck.

He did come up with a hammer though and said he would just lay on deck while using the back to grab the lines.  For some reason I actually felt confident that I could bring us up to the mooring and perfectly slide in allowing Tom to grab the lines.  I knew enough to throw it in neutral early so we didn’t come barreling in at top speed but as we were slowly coming up on the dinghy and mooring ball I lost sight of them and ended up running over the lines instead of just pulling up next to them.  He was still able to grab the lines from the side before they went under the bow and since we came in slow enough we began to drift back a little where he could fully grab the lines and attach them to the cleats on deck.  I think from now on I’ll get my practice in with Matt and Serendipity to actually bring the boat up to the mooring instead of just grabbing the lines so I won’t have these kinds of issues again while driving someone else’s boat.

As Tom prepped the boat to close it up Jackie and I went about loading up the dinghy for the ride back to shore.  Finally and area her and I know how to do well!  I think Tom was actually surprised when he stepped back on deck to find everything neatly stowed away as I’m guessing most of the woman he’s gone sailing with always get on and off at docks and have never even stepped into a dinghy before.  Us two girls had no problem in one and also had no issue bringing up to shore and unloading it.  The big cooler was dropped off in Tom’s car and we wandered into the yard of the yacht club to find Shannon, Mike and Pete still waiting for us.  Since everyone was still in the mood to celebrate the solstice and the fact we were still alive we all headed inside where Tom treated us to MYC’s signature drink which includes rum and gin but I can’t remember what it’s called although I do know it was very tasty.  Jackie and I talked more about our identical interests and how eerily similar we were.  It was also fun playing with Tom trying to get him to believe that we really had only met 4 hours earlier.  There was of course talk about how Jackie would have to come out to race again, next time with her husband Ron in tow, while I would also try and get Matt to make it out for one race.

As the sun had long set by now everyone was starting to say their goodbyes it was mentioned that there would be a two week hiatus due to vacations and holidays.  Which means that I’ll only have two more opportunities to race since the last Wednesday before we push out for good will be just before the Chicago to Mac race which most of the racers will be participating in.  That doesn’t seem like nearly enough.  I’m still very sad and disappointed that I came into such a fun sport so late in my sailing career.  At least I know my ‘life’ on sailboats is just about to begin and that’s something to look forward to.  A lot.

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