10.4.12 (2)

You Can Swim, But You Can’t Hide

Thursday October 4, 2012

Spending another day just trying to get boat related things accomplished such as a few loads of laundry in town and trying to figure out why our engine would not start we heard the familiar sound of knocking on our hull.  Brian and Stephanie had come over to see what we were up to and let us in on a little secret.  They knew how badly we wanted to catch a Chesapeake Blue Crab while in the area and while taking a leisurely kayak ride down the creek that morning Stephanie had seen a few hanging out on the walls of the bridge just a few inches under the water.  They had a net and a bucket in their dinghy and were ready to go crabbing.  We jumped in their dinghy but realizing that four people plus hopefully a lot of crabs inside one dinghy might get a little crowded, we made a pit stop at their boat so Stephanie and I could jump into kayaks to follow the boys in the dinghy and also scout out spots along the bridge before they got there.

Even though my kayaking skills appeared much better than they had been years ago when we owned our own, that or the kayak I was borrowing was much lighter with much better paddles, I still arrived at the bridge a few minutes after everyone else.  While Matt and Brian ran along one wall scouring the water line for anything with claws I didn’t want to get in their way and just lazily paddled on the other side.  I hadn’t even been looking at the wall for ten seconds when I spotted one.  I had no net, I had no bucket, but for some reason my mind was thinking I might be able to be helpful by scooping it up with my paddle and dumping it onto the top of the kayak until I could get it to the bucket.  My paddle went in the water just inches away from the crab when it sensed my presence and scuttled away.  Realizing I would most likely be useless as far as catching I went to check out the guys and see how they were doing.  Already they had a rhythm down where one would stand and slowly move the dinghy across the wall by hand and the other would stand near the bow on lookout with the net.  As soon as they saw something the dinghy would be stopped and the person with the net would dip it in the water behind and under the crab and come up on it with a sneak attack.  A much better formulated plan and pretty soon they were coming up with something on every swipe.  Not that every one was a keeper though.  Luckily Brain had studied the rules and found out that it’s illegal to keep any females or any males under 5.5″.  Most of the initial catches had to go back and although I’m sure they didn’t want to be dumped into our ‘keeper’ bucket they weren’t doing a good job of letting themselves be dumped back into the water either.  Their claws would get wrapped up in the net and Brian or Matt would have to stick their hands in and try to work it free.  This is where being an bystander really worked out for me.

We were originally guessing the lengths at first until Stephanie went back for a tape measure.  At this point we already had three in the bucket and the goal was to have one crab for each person.  When the fourth keeper was pulled out of the water we celebrated that we’d be able to have a crab dinner the next night, probably with lots of sides since a crab in itself (especially one that measures less than 6″) would not be a hearty meal.  But the boys were ambitious and wanted to keep crabbing.  They went back to search all the walls they had already gone through on the swinging bridge and then moved up to a fixed bridge a few hundred feet up the creek.  We were now two hours into this fishing expedition and my back was starting to kill sitting in one specific position.  I think Stephanie was feeling the same way and after paddling next to me we both slouched down in our seats, letting the current carry us wherever it felt like.  That happened to be the docks of the apartment where BMac lives and he was just getting home from work, ready for Brian and Stephanie to treat him to a sail before he treated them to dinner.  The boys stopped their fishing but when they came back announced they had twelve keepers in the bucket.  Maybe sides won’t be necessary after all.

Being transported first back to Rode Trip so I could drop of the kayak and then to our boat I was happy just to pass out on a cushion as I had already been feeling a little under the weather all day.  Or maybe it’s just exhaustion from our busy boat life.  Projects during the day and get togethers at night.  No one said this life was going to be easy.  Like sipping Painkillers at the boat show tomorrow and then ending the night with a fresh crab dinner with friends.  Not easy at all, but someone’s gotta do it.

This lucky little lady gets to be thrown back.

We caught this one while he was busy munching on a fish.

Our bucket of crabs.  Much better than a barrel of monkeys.

10.3.12 (2)

Rode Tripping

Wednesday October 3, 2012

They say that in life it’s not about what you know, but who you know.  Well we happen to know some people who know someone with a car.  When you’re in our lifestyle that can come in very handy.  These some people just happen to be Brian and Stephanie, but they have a friend who coincidentally lives in an apartment on the creek in which we’re anchored.  The friend of our friends, also named Brian but called BMac for short, that if Brian 1 would take him to work in the morning they could have use of his car until he got out at 3:30.  Being the great friends they are they asked us if there’s anywhere we needed a car to get to and if we’d like to tag along with them.  It was a no-brain answer and although we expected for them to be knocking at our hull at 7:30 in the morning (we usually get woken up at 10:30 in the morning with neighbors doing that to stop by and say hi) we were surprised when we rolled out of bed on our own, still after 10:00, and no one had been knocking on our door.  We assumed we missed a text and the opportunity and would be on the boat all day.  Nope.  An hour later we did get that text and  were picked up by dinghy shortly after that.

When pulling up to the docks (or beach more accurately if I haven’t described it before) we saw a nice sized jelly fish sloshing around in the water.  We knew there were tons of little ones floating around that were only the size of a wine cork and couldn’t do any damage to you, but this was one of the first actual big ones we had seen.  Much better than the first one I saw which was less than five minutes after getting out of the water the first, and only, time I tried bathing in the creek.  It was mostly clear with long tentacles and blood red oral arms probably measuring over two feet in length.  After that there was no more water conservation as far as showers went.  Anyhow, parked at the end of the street was a car just waiting to take us wherever we wanted to go.  And where do four cruisers who finally get their hands on a set of wheels go?  West Marine.  Like you even had to ask.  While the guys did their browsing of intricate parts and nuts and bolts, Stephanie and I browsed the magazines by the counter.  A copy of Blue Water Sailing caught my eye with headliner across the top of the issue.  Go young, Go now.  30-Something Cruisers.  Strange, I don’t remember the interview for that one but somehow they knew we were out here.

With unlimited freedom and two hours we went crazy and also hit up places like Home Depot, Safeway, and Walgreens.  No taming some crazy kids like us.  Did I mention we even hit up Sonic?  On foot of course, the car was left next door while prescriptions were being filled.  Since we had used up the whole afternoon running errands that would have taken us days otherwise there was no time for Matt and I to be dropped off before BMac needed to be picked up from work.  So Matt and I sat in the back seat of a strangers car with large drinks in our hands (was there a no liquids rule in this car?) as we swung by to pick up some unsuspecting guy that had no clue that two extra people and their junk would be occupying his car that day.  Without skipping a beat he opened the door to the back seat and started to get in as if it were an everyday occurrence that his car is taken over for public transportation.  Quickly playing a game of Chinese Fire Drill though, people were moved from their seats so that BMac could drive, Brian went into the passenger seat, and Stephanie squeezed into the back with me.  There was no mention about the drinks in our hands.  Whew, I did not want to give up my coffee with extra espresso on this rainy day.

We were dropped off at our boat by Brian 1 and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing.  Later in the afternoon as the sky was clearing up and we were preparing dinner we heard a knock on the hull.  Popping our head out we saw our friends from earlier and they asked if we’d like to come over for game night later.  They were just about to go back and make dinner themselves but said we could show up any time after.  A few hours later we were trying to dig out anything from our quickly diminishing beer supply and locked up our boat.  When we climbed in the cabin they were just finishing a pizza Brian 1 had made from scratch and there was enough left for me to find out it was delicious.  They would just have to rub it in, wouldn’t they?  Although I felt no guilt in devouring pieces from the next two pies that went in the oven.

Then Apples to Apples came out and it’s always interesting playing with people you still don’t know really well and tying to play your card to the judge.  Matt and I are so used to ourselves and friends back home being so sarcastic that we’ll always throw down a red ‘Prostitution’ card to match the green ‘Innocent’ one.  This group liked to be a little more literal when matching cards and our humor wouldn’t always get through.  It’s always a good time while playing though and I recommend that every boat and house has it.  After a few rounds of winners we went back to just talking and drinking, reminiscing about when we were young.  Since the whole crew was born in ’82 or ’83 we somehow got on the subject of early 90’s TGIF line-up and made a game of trying to remember what made it up.  Full House was the easy first guess and it was still a few minutes before anyone could come up with the next show, Family Matters.  When my Perfect Strangers (remember Balki?) was disputed we turned to the source of all knowledge and finally Googled the line-up.  Ending the night we also found and remembered the show Dinosaurs from the TGIF line-up and spent the rest of our time watching clips of it on You Tube and yelling “Not the mama!”.  How did we ever like that as kids?

Still not sure I’d even want to go swimming with this guy.

Game night on Rode Trip.

10.1.12 (3)

I’ll Have What He’s Having

Monday October 1, 2012

With the sun in the sky and a desperate need to get away from the boat and all it’s little projects we called in on our friends Brian and Stephanie to see if they’d like to join us on a little tour through town today.  The large 9 hp had been put on the dinghy and we were going to ride up the Severn River to Spa Creek and dock in the heart of downtown.  No long walks for this girl today.  Coming up to that dinghy dock it was already pretty crowded but we managed to squeeze in and tie off.  Getting right down to window shopping we went into some of the prime real estate shops right on the water like The Pink Crab filled with flowery dresses and then next door to Sperry Top-Sider where I looked to see if there was any chance the shoes I wanted were on clearance.  They were not and I’m assuming that store does not have a clearance section.  Helly Hanson did though but it was all bulky winter coats that I couldn’t fit on the boat.  Matt shakes his head at the four jackets/coats I already have but they all get tons of use.

Leaving the classy and yacht inspired stores we moved on to the more touristy ones along Main St.  There were plenty with shot glasses, t-shirts, and mugs letting you know you were in Annapolis and signs decorating the walls saying things like ‘Do one brave thing today then run like hell’.  Back on the street we found a hopscotch court in between a few buildings and although Matt and I shrugged our shoulders as how to play, Stephanie and Brian were quick to throw stones on the numbers while hopping the length out and back.  When they finished our eyes wandered up and down the road of where to go next.  Then in front of us it stuck out like the sore thumb it is, the orange and green front nestled into the subdued whites, blacks, and reds around it.  “You guys hungry?” we asked?  “Yeah, we could eat something” they replied.  Cutting across the street we walked into Chick & Ruth’s and found the main floor full of other patrons.  We were led to the upper section and were the only ones up there among ten or so tables.  The menus were set in front of us and we were told they’d give us some time to look them over.  About fifteen minutes is necessary since this is a 12 page menu.  As we flipped through the pages we all kept coming back to the lump crab cakes and one other thing.  Happy hour started at 5 and they offered half off beers and wines.  It was just going on four o’clock and we almost debated leaving and coming back an hour later but with no real plans we figured we could eat and still stay long enough to enjoy the hops on special.  As the waitress came to take our order we went around the table and ordered the same thing, the lump crab cake meal.  We also let her know that we’d be there for quite awhile, unless she had the power to change happy hour to 4:00.  No luck on that front.

When the food came out all talking stopped as our faces were suddenly stuffed with some of the best crab cake I have ever tasted.  The food was so filling though that my plate stayed in front of me well into happy hour as I picked at it’s remains while enjoying Sam Adams and Fordham for about $1.75 a bottle.  I don’t know why it took us almost a week to get here but I hope there’s at least one more visit while we’re in town.  Before we could even exhaust the four drink limit we were all to full to let anything else cross our lips.  Paying our tabs we were back on the street where the temperature had dropped about ten degrees and a light rain was starting.  Even though it was early in the evening most of the shops had closed already and we wandered into the next open one we found.  It was a spice and herb store and while drying off we took in the names of all the exotic spices and lifted the lids to get a smell.  Some were a specific spice alone and others were rubs and marinades for grilling.  There were way too many tempting ones to choose from and while Matt and I eventually left empty handed our friends picked up a few ounces to kick up the top notch cooking they always seem to pull off.

Thinking we’d head back to the dinghy and call it a night as it was cold and dark and sprinkling we spotted a bar on the second floor of some shops with neon lights flashing through the windows and we felt it deserved a closer look.  Getting to the top of the stairs we found it was not the night club we imagined it to be but a restaurant/buffet instead.  It still deserved a beer though and we sat next to the windows that drew us in and watched the lack of action out on the street.  Even though we didn’t find the club we impulsively started searching for as soon as we thought we had come upon one (I miss a loud thumping techno beat!) I’d still label this day a success.  This is why we’re out cruising.

*Yes, Chick & Ruth’s did have wifi and I was finally able to get my work done.  So many reasons to love this place.


The Annapolis Roast Of Between The Sheets

Sunday September 30, 2012

Today I was on a mission to find internet.  We needed to pick up a few groceries since Between The Sheets had invited us over for another roast that night and we needed to bring a dish to pass.  Since Matt was still immersed in boat projects I offered to go myself and let him stay to get things done.  With my laptop secured in my backpack I had written down the names of two groceries stores in the area and directions to them so I could leave the phone with Matt and still communicate with him if necessary through my laptop.  Making me start the outboard on my own to make sure I could do it myself on the way back as well he chuckled in the cockpit as I had to use all my force and even put my foot on the motor leverage as I yanked back on the cord to start it.  On a 3.3 horsepower.  I swear it wasn’t this hard before.  Finally I got it started and pushed off, weaving through the other anchored boats on my way to shore.  Not sure when to put full power behind the motor and then cut it so I would easily coast to shore I stopped a little too soon and had to jump in the water to pull myself up.  Yanking with all my might to pull the dinghy up on to dry land with me it didn’t get as far as I’d hoped but our lock was long, so after wrapping it around a bench I knew even if I had to wade back out a little to get it, it wasn’t going very far.

Pulling the hand written directions out of my pocket I followed the streets to the first grocery store listed.  I had lucked out since it was only a half mile from the boat and large enough to carry everything I needed.  Filling up the backpack I walked out toward a shopping district hoping to find a cafe or restaurant that offered wifi.  Walking all the way down the road it was filled with galleries and and little shops but no cafes.  Basically ending up where I had started that morning I walked into a Mexican restaurant thinking that I could sit and enjoy a margarita or beer while working at least.  As soon as I got in the door I asked if there was wifi service and one of the employees told me they had gotten rid of it because of too many people in the area hacking into it.  Okay, did he know anywhere in the vicinity that might carry it?  Nope, they all got rid of it for the same reason as well.  Looks like I was in for another long walk.  On my handwritten map for the other grocery store I knew there was a Starbucks near it and debated if I should walk the two miles that way or search for something closer and possibly come up empty handed.

I was on a time constraint since Matt still had projects for me to do on the boat (as soon as one sewing project ends another one always starts) and I also had to prepare food for dinner and be there by six.  Doing my treadmill math in my head I thought if I walked really fast I could get there in thirty minutes, spend an hour there, and then have another thirty minute walk home.  Making my way out to the main road I followed another until I came out to the spot where the bus had dropped us off the previous day. Hmmmm,  I didn’t remember that being a short walk the first time and according to my map I was only half way there.  Walking and walking my thirty minutes had lapsed and I was hot and sweaty.  The backpack was heavy and that pesky little pain in my leg was coming back.  But the mission was strong and I continued forward with what seemed like no end in sight.

Coming up to the last intersection which would then lead me to the Starbucks on my map I saw there was one on this corner already.  Hallelujah, the end was in sight.  Almost wiping back tears of joy I hurried toward it when out of the corner of my eye I saw golden arches.  The first McDonald’s I had seen in about six miles of walking through this town.  If I walked just two blocks further I could enjoy an iced coffee and a sandwich for just the price of the coffee at Starbucks.  It was worth it. (Quickly while I’m on the subject, I’m all for the preservation of cute little towns, but you have your first fast food restaurant this far out of my way?  Throw a bone to us little guys.)  I walked in to find a bunch of students from the Naval Academy sitting around and enjoying a little freedom.  Once I had my food in my hands I did the normal ritual of wandering around and looking under each table for an outlet.  I was coming up empty and thinking there may still be a Starbucks run in my future when a gentleman sitting at one of the tables eyed me and asked, “You looking for an electrical outlet?”.  I’m guessing he had seen a lot of people do this dance before me.  I admitted that I was in fact searching for one and he replied that the only ones he knew of were in the ceiling.  Not really hearing that one before I asked him to show me and indeed they were embedded in the ceiling tiles.  Five feet above my head.  Pulling out one of the chairs from the high tops I positioned it under the outlet and hoping I wouldn’t be scolded by one of the employees, stood on it to plug my laptop in.

Logging into everything I was ready to get some real work done.  Going to open my Office documents it failed and needed to recover.  Starting the recovery process I was getting impatient.  The walk had taken a lot longer than I thought and even though I didn’t get a scolding from the McDonald’s employees for climbing on furniture I was pretty sure I was going to get one from Matt if I stayed out all day.  Document failed, would you like to recover?  Yes…yes I would like to recover that document very much.  Each time I got the same message though.  Once again I had all my work done and no way to transfer it.  Shut down again.  I was ready to pull out the tall chair once again just to throw my computer down from it and stomp on it a few times.  I think if I shut everything off and started it back again I probably could have recovered my documents but I had already wasted my time and my computer is sooooo slow (Christmas gift mom & dad (in-law)?) that I think I would have spent all afternoon there but I had to pack it in and head home.

Getting back to the boat I saw that Andy and John were visiting and everyone had a beer in their hands.  Double plus for me because it was a good excuse to crack open a much needed one for myself and they were also keeping Matt busy enough that he forgot I promised to finish my ‘chores’ before dinner.  As soon as they left I got to work preparing food to bring over to their boat in just a few hours.  In addition to the (real) salad I was bringing this time I thought I’d also whip up some chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  Although the batter looked and tasted great there was an issue while baking where the cookies didn’t really rise and came out a little hard and dry.  Messing up a cookie recipe that’s printed right on the bag of chocolate chips?  I’m starting to think the issue is with the oven and not the chef.  Throwing in some more cooking oil and lowering the temperature for the next batch I pulled them out of the oven just as it was time to head over for dinner.  Just as we settled into the cockpit a light drizzle started outside and I was glad I threw on long underwear since the nights have started to become very chilly.  Of course we were in the company of Canadians though who probably thought it was good beach weather.  (You know I’m just kidding and I love all you Canadians out there).  This time it was just the four of us as even though our other friends from before were in town they were in another creek.  There would be no Heart of Gold for us to sing along to that night but spirits were lifted when Andy pulled his bacon wrapped roast out of the oven.  Nothing like a good meal with great friends to lift ones spirits.  Maybe my life is more like a roller coaster than I thought, but at least I’m ending this night on a high.

*While I’m totally kidding about the new computer for Christmas (mostly), if anyone has an old or non-used laptop in their home that they’d like to get rid of, I will gladly take it off your hands.

The things I go through.

Passing the Naval Stadium on my way back.

A fine bottle such as Three Buck Chuck must always be presented before pouring.


Material Overload

Saturday September 29, 2012

With my leg feeling slightly better (I’m guessing it’s a pulled muscle or torn something from NY that never fully healed) and having been cooped up in the boat for two days it was time for another excursion to shore. Today we wanted to stock up on groceries at Sam’s Club and get a few things at the mall. Or Matt wanted to stock up on groceries and get things at the mall. I wanted to get internet. Thinking our touchpad would save us a lot of space in the backpack compared to my laptop I transferred over all my Office documents and photos to a card which I could throw into the touchpad and retrive. We set out on the three mile walk (each way) to the mall. When we arrived there our fist stop was at the Taco Bell in the food court. This is something we have been craving ever since we left Michigan and have searched out in every town with no avail until now. Sitting at a table with our gorditas I pulled out the touchpad ready to get some work done. Matt took it out of it’s protective case to search for the spot to insert the card I had downloaded all my information to only to find out that our touchpad did not have one. Five days I had been waiting to do this work and I was shut down. I was very disappointed to say the least, but at least I had Taco Bell to lift my spirits.

The next stop along the way was to search for new phone carriers since we are still not happy with our T Mobile service. Wanting to get back to AT&T we found one of their stores in the mall but when explaining to them what we’d like to do they said they did not offer their services for pre-paid plans. Looks like we’ll still be stuck with T Mobile for the next two months. Before crossing the street to pick up a few things at Sam’s Club we wandered through the mall looking in all the store windows. It had been a long time since we’d been in a mall, or really any place that had so many material goods in one location.

If we were back at our normal lives, this is probably where I would be on a Saturday afternoon. It’s hard to tell if I would actually be buying anything since for the past few years I’ve had it ingrained in my mind that I need to save for this trip. But I let my mind wander as if this trip had never been planned at all and I was just a regular girl out to spend some cash. I kept looking in the windows of things I wanted but now could not have. A new lamp or decorative pillow for the house. A comfy sweater and boots that would be great for Fall. The pair of sky blue skinny jeans that I had been looking all over for. Getting rid of all our possessions had been so easy at the time we had done it but for a few moments in that mall, all I wanted was to have it all back. The house, the car, the dog, and the wardrobe full of new clothes. Shaking myself out of it I just kept reminding myself of the tropical beaches that await me. This is all going to be worth it.

Back at the boat we were growing hungry and I was excited to make a BBQ chicken pizza that I had been thinking about all day. Feeling keen on my cooking skills after borrowing a book of ratios from Rode Trip I set out even making my own crust. Going through four difficult to reach areas of the boat I pulled out all the ingredients to get to work. My my wandered to if we were in a house and everything would be at my fingertips. Making a mess of multiple dishes and pans I looked at the sink and thought of all the work I’d have to do later washing them by hand. When Matt tried to ‘assist’ me in the galley topping the pizza crust while I rinsed dishes and put things away we constantly bumped into each other as there is no room for two people in the galley. I thought back to home where there was more counter space than I could ever dream of now. As the pizza came out the toppings were delicious but the crust was as hard as a brick.

I about broke down. For six weeks I had been telling myself that all the changes and difficulties were worth it and after only socializing with other cruisers I had begun to believe it and think that this new life was now normal. But after being thrown back in the ‘real world’ today, even for a few hours I was harshly reminded of how easy I used to have it and how difficult everything now seemed. I’m kind of surprised it took me this long actually, I thought my first breakdown would have been within the first week or two of leaving. But it’s been said of cruising that you’re life is now a roller coaster. When you’re up you’re up and when you’re down you’re down. Thinking about this a little harder I realized I had slid into this life so seamlessly that it hadn’t been much of a roller coaster but a straight line with a few ups which then led me back to normal. I had more frustrating days back on land than I’ve had since we’ve been on the water. Knowing this lifestyle would have it’s difficulties long before I moved aboard I let a lot of the so called bad days go thinking ‘So is the life of cruising‘. So I should be allowed to freak out once in awhile. If my days are usually ‘up’ or ‘normal’ with one bad day every six weeks I should consider myself pretty lucky. There’s always time to perfect that pizza crust and Matt’s rarely if never in the galley. Soon we’ll be surrounded by cruisers again and forget how normal people live with all the land based things we gave up. Plus, there are still a lot of highs to come on our roller coaster.

At least it looked good to start.



9.28.12 (1)


Friday September 28, 2012 


For the past two days we’ve just been sitting in Weems Creek on the boat getting a few necessary projects done.  There’s talk about going back in to town soon as there are land based things that have to get done as well but my leg has been giving me so much pain for the past few days that I’m afraid to use it extensively.  Yesterday I wasn’t even able to put all my weight on it.  So I’ve been doing sewing projects on board, the lee cloth is finally done!, and Matt installed the new bilge pump and worked on the solar panels.  Somehow I thought that two straight days on the boat would be relaxing but there hasn’t been a free moment.  Oh, but there has been time to spy on the Navy’s Crew team that practices by our boat every day.  They’re always a nice distraction.

9.26.12 (1)

Is There Ann-Ap-(olis) For That?

Wednesday September 26, 2012

Getting up today we knew we wanted to check out the town of Annapolis, plus Matt had found there was a West Marine on the outskirts as as always we needed to pick up a few things there.  Like a new switch for our bilge pump that stopped working and possibly a new life sling.  After taking a shower in the cockpit and feeling like I was bringing down the property value of all the multi-million dollar homes around us I put on jeans and a sweatshirt.  We found a very handy dinghy beach half way up the creek and started following our map into town.  As soon as we stepped on to the bridge crossing College Creek the scenery dramatically changed.  Everything became brick and the buildings had perfectly manicured lawns and colorful flower beds.  Making our way to Church Circle we admired the historic buildings and the business men and women enjoying their lunches in outdoor cafes in their suits and dresses.  This may be the sailing capital of the world but I have a feeling that it normally caters to those in their seersucker shorts, polo shirts and Sperry Topsiders versus cruisers like me in cut offs and flip flops.

Randomly picking a street to get down to the waterfront we walked down it a few minutes before spotting a couple exiting from an alley between a few buildings. Thinking that an alley shortcut sounded like fun we took the few steps and path down through the old brick buildings. We were let out on Main St with a mix of tourist souvenir shops and local specialties. We knew we didn’t have time to stop and browse through them today, we were on a West Marine mission after all, but we’d be in town for a few weeks and there would be plenty of time to come back to them. I did stop in my tracks though as I came face to face with Chick N Ruth’s. Again, we never do much researching before we get to a town of what’s located where, but this was on my list of places to hit (the only one really) as soon as I found out we were coming to Annapolis. I had seen an episode a few years back on Man vs Food and they had a 6 lb milkshake there. Six pounds of milkshake! Both of us are huge fans of ice cream and I was really disappointed when Matt told me it was very hard to get outside of the states unless you want to pay a lot of money for it. My logic had been that if we stopped here along the way and forced ourselves to eat six pounds of it (together) that we’d be so sick of ice cream that we’d never want to eat it again. Perfect solution.

 Ice cream too would have to wait for another day and we kept walking towards the West Marine. We passed over Spa Creek where the sailboat show will be held next weekend and stood to look at some of the big money boats already there. We almost anchored in this creek as it was in the heart of town with easy access to everything but we didn’t want to fight the constant crowds and noise of the area. Stopping at a gas station for some cold drinks (it ended up being much too hot for a sweatshirt) the man behind the counter handed us a paper map marked with the location of WM and told us we had about a mile and a half to go. After the mile and a half we had just walked to get to this point. It didn’t sound hard on paper after walking five times that each day in NYC, but something I did to my leg in the city was still giving me problems and it was already aching. When we passed a sign for a bus stop along the way I was pretty sure we’d be using it on the way back.

Finally at the West Marine Matt searched for bilge pump switches while I had an employee running around looking for men’s flip flops. Matt bought a pair back near Albany and two pairs and one return later they were still falling apart on him. When we cashed out an exchange was performed for a better brand and when being asked where the pair he was returning were he replied “On my feet”. They didn’t even blink an eye and that is one of the reasons I love West Marine. We did not pick up a Lifesling, thinking it was more than we wanted to add to the September budget, but we did scoop up a handy little crab trab. Supposedly they’re all over the Chesapeake and we figured that even one caught for dinner would pay for the trap. On our way out the door again my leg was giving me serious problems and I was ready for that bus. Heading back the direction we came from it was a good mile before there was a sign for a stop. The bus got there at quarter after the hour every hour and it was only half past. Even though I was almost in tears of pain at this point we knew there was another stop a half mile up and thought if we had all that time to kill we may as well make it up there. Trying to read the map posted we saw the gold line would take us closest to the creek but didn’t have any stops on this route so when the green line came up five minutes later we saw that it would take us close enough and got on. The driver asked us where we were going and we said that we didn’t really know. He then asked if we were going downtown. Sure, why not. “Then you want the red, you need to get off” “No, that’s fine, we’ll go wherever you take us” “No, you want the red line, you need to get off”. Kicked off the bus? What the heck? Ten minutes later the red line was the next bus to pass our way and we got on without saying a word. Taking it just past the downtown area we jumped off on a main road where we thought a few short cuts through other streets would quickly lead us back to the creek. They did not. I haven’t pulled out a map to check yet but I think we did more walking from where the bus let us off than where we had initially been.

Happy to finally be able to sit down we were dinghying back when we saw Rode Trip on a mooring ball. We swung by to say hello and after talking about our separate trips to Annapolis that Matt and I would quick drop our stuff off and come back with a bottle of wine in exchange for fishing tips. It seems that Rode Trip catches fish everywhere they go and we were eager to learn for ourselves the best way how. After scarfing a quick snack and grabbing a bottle of three buck chuck we were back on their boat catching up over the past few days. When the talk got to fishing they said their only luck was keeping a lure out at all times. If you’re always fishing you’re bound to catch something sometime. Wanting to put that theory to the test we showed them our fancy new crab trap and asked if we could throw it over. Snapping some weights to the doors to make sure they’d fall open and tying a piece of sausage in the center the trap went overboard as we talking about cruising more over he bottle of red wine. Going back to the trap every so often the guys would slowly lift it up after feeling a tugging weight at the bottom, but it was always empty by the time it got to the surface. Us girls were happy just to sit back with a drink in our hand and after the wine was gone we moved on a Brooklyn Brew. I don’t know if Stephanie was in the same (figurative) boat as me but I hadn’t had more than an orange and a pack of trail mix all day and I think the wine was going to our heads. As the guys fished we became more animated in our storytelling and she’d pull out her touchpad to show us photos of their trip, scrolling through with lightning speed before any of the photos could actually be seen. Matt could tell it was time to put me to bed and we gathered our empty crab trap and said goodbye for the night. After my day of limping through the heat I was sure I was going to add this to my ‘not so great days of cruising’, but I love how new friends and a bottle of wine can turn that all around.

Yacht Club at Spa Creek

We caught a jellyfish!

‘I’m totally not planning on stealing this Lifesling behind me!’


9.25.12 (4)

Knot Getting Far

Tuesday September 25, 2012

(Corny title, I know, but this post is mostly about speed.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

When we left our creek in Middle River today there was only about 20 miles left to travel before we got to Annapolis and I thought we’d be there in 3-4 hours.  For the past few days our average had been about 6 knots and I had no reason to think today would be different.  This held true as we left the river and pointed East to get past an island before we could go South.  We cruised by it at over six and a half knots and now I was sure we could make Annapolis in three hours.  I could just make out the outline of Bay Bridge in the distance and once I got the ok I pointed South towards it.  We knew winds were coming from this direction but once we put ourselves on course we were basically in irons.  Thinking it would be best to motor through it we turned on the engine.  Our speed had dropped by three knots and it felt like we were making no progress.  Letting this go on for thirty minutes we thought back to how fast we were going under sail on our beam reach and figured by rolling out the genoa once more we could tack back and forth and a 45 degree angle to the wind and still make more progress than we were just motoring straight into the 25 knot winds.  The sail was unfurled, the course was changed, and the engine was shut off.  Even after we gathered back our momentum after the original course change our speed had gone from 3.5 under motor to 2.6 under sail.  Trying to gain more speed we’d fall off the wind more and more, but that left us on a mostly East to West course and were not making much movement in the right direction.

We fooled ourselves for way too long that this plan of sailing and tacking might actually work before we gave up and turned the engine on again.  Pointing ourselves South again we were fighting the wind and waves once more and speed had decreased to 1.5 knots.  What happened to the 3.5 we had earlier?  Could we not win?  Sometimes we’d do ok and start to get our speed up again and a huge wave would crash into our bow almost bringing us to a standstill, then we’d have to start all over again.  For the next few hours we plugged along, trying to get closer to shore to block some of the wind.  This seemed to help a lot and we settled into a speed between 4 and 5.  Just as we were getting to the bridge I settled into the channel which allowed me to not have to keep a constant eye out for crap and oyster traps that cluttered the bay.

 While I was enjoying this break from keeping my eyes peeled on the water I looked up at the bridge to watch the large barges about to come under.  There was one very large one passing through and it took a minute after he got under that he’d probably want to share the channel with me.  I added a few degrees to the autopilot to allow space.  Matt looked over at me as if to say ‘Get out of his way!’ which I told him that I already added five degrees.  That should be plenty.  Just as we were sitting there arguing if there would be enough room for the both of us we heard five blasts from the behemoth.   Yes, he was definitely telling me to get the F out of his way.  Quickly adding twenty more degrees I got out of the way just as he passed us by.  I’m sure he was shaking his head thinking ‘Pshh, women drivers’.

All was going well as we passed under the bridge, the entrance to the Severn River and Annapolis were in sight when all of a sudden the engine cut out.  I moved the RPMs down and threw it in neutral.  We’d had this happen before when large waves would shake around the fuel and a near empty tank would think it had run dry.  Then when we’d calm down it would sputter back to life.  This time it didn’t happen.  It shut itself completely off and I had harsh winds trying to push us back into the pillars of the bridge we had just crossed under.  It wasn’t a dire situation yet, but it was on it’s way there.  Just as I was about to fully panic we turned the engine once again and it came to life.  Only to die again a quarter mile further.  Emptying a five gallon jerrycan into the tank we hoped this would not become an issue again since the sun was setting and there were still a few miles to go upriver.  It must have done the trick though because we made it back to Weems Creek without any more engine issues.  There was the slight issue though of the anchor taking three times to hold in the silty mud below us.  I’m sure the cat we were anchoring next to felt very confident in our skills as we’d throw it in reverse to dig the anchor down, only to fly backward closer and closer to them.  I’m sure they had the same thought as the barge, ‘Pshh, women drivers’.

Okay, so I may have been in his way a little bit.

Anyone for a game of Battleship?

9.24.12 (3)

Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted

Monday September 24, 2012

For the past two days we’ve been hanging out in this little place called Frog Mortar Creek in the Middle River on the Chesapeake. Lots of words to pinpoint one location, but that’s how things seem to be in this area. Look at the Chesapeake, find an area you want to spend the night, then locate a river in that area (it’t not hard, they’re everywhere), and inside the river find a creek deep enough for you to anchor in. It was my job this time to find a place to stay for the night. Normally we look to go 40 miles per day, but we need to be in Annapolis for the sail boat show the weekend of October 5th and Annapolis only happens to be 40 miles down the Chesapeake. We hear this area can get quite crazy near the boat show and it’s good to show up early to snag a mooring or anchorage, but two weeks was just a little earlier than we wanted to get there. So browsing through our Waterway Guide I checked out the rivers along the way and what they had o offer. Middle River happened to be, well in the Middle of the entrance to the Chesapeake and Annapolis so I thought we could stop there for a night and maybe head to Baltimore the next day. Reading further into the creeks there was one that boasted deep anchorages for large boats and was within walking distance of Walmart. Supplies did happen to be running a little low, but where you can find a Walmart you can usually find a McDonalds. And McDonalds has wifi. You can see where I’m going with this. I’m already staring to get emails from family members asking if we’ve abandoned the site since I’m so far behind on my blogging and I will take any chance I can get to update. The course was set and I was going to get my wifi.

 Making the short 15 mile jump from our anchorage to Middle River we started looking at the charts for the best spot to anchor that night. Apparently their deep anchorage for large boats was six feet deep. We have a five foot draft so would still be ok, but with tides we didn’t want to ground ourselves. Usually eleven feet is what we look for. But checking all the other creeks in that river and even the ones in neighboring rivers all had depths of only four feet. Looks like this one would have to work for the night. As we pulled into the creek I kept an eye on the charts and the depth and was fine to drop in the middle of the creek where the depth was six feet. Matt kept insisting that our depth reader is a couple feet off and we could get closer to shore. As I mentioned that I was not going to be the one to run us aground I handed the wheel to him as he kept inching in closer and closer. The depth went from reading 6.7 to 5.5 and then 5.1 when the boat ground to a halt. “Did you just run around?” I gawped? “Yes I did” he answered with a smile on his face, throwing it in reverse and moving us back to deeper water.

Once we were back in 7 ft of water the anchor was dropped and we were in the dinghy scanning for places to go to shore.  We looked to be surrounded by private homes and marinas.  Since it was Sunday we probably could have pulled up at one of the marinas and no one would have even been there to notice but as we passed one home it looked as if there was a boat launch next to it.  We couldn’t tell if it was public or private since the home next to it was fenced in with No Trespassing signs on it.  Did that mean the launch was public and the home’s property was private?  We decided that it did, or at least we’d play dumb and say that should someone ask, and locked the dinghy to some rotting dock post to the side.  As we grabbed our backpacks and walked up the dirt path it appeared as if the launch blended in to the yard with grass and trees and the driveway.  At this point we were 90% sure we probably shouldn’t be there but kept going anyway.  Even when the dog was let out in the yard and started barking at us and the yard and driveway were littered with sign stating Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted we kept moving forward with our eyes down.  Getting to the main road and finding a McDonald’s I was being glared at the whole time by Matt as he knew that every second we were away from the dinghy was counting against us.  I don’t think I even got in 20 minutes of internet time before I was shut down.

Rushing over to Walmart we stocked up on as much as we could from our grocery list.  Never being Walmart shoppers before we left home (I miss you Meijer!!!) we did not know that one had to be a Super Center for it to have a full grocery section.  Left without eggs and sliced cheese and a few other things we thought would be essentials we stuffed our backpacks and began walking back, wondering what was waiting for us at the other end.  I was pretty sure the owner had a gun and would not be afraid to use it on us should we try to run.  Our mind kept racing with things like, ‘What if the owner is outside when we get back…what do we say or do?’.  I quickly tried to think of ways I’d be able to distract them while Matt sneaked around back to untie the dinghy and get it ready, with still no idea of how I would get back to it as well.  As the moment of truth came we walked up to the house and no one was standing outside.  Keeping our eyes at our feet just as before we moved along the trees at the edge, trying to blend in.  I unlocked the dinghy and as we were loading it up I thought I saw the back door open, but no one came out.  Oh well, we were too far now.  Pushing it back into the water we started the engine and were back off to the boat with no shot gun wounds or prosecutions.  We celebrated our good luck at dinner with Matt finally drinking his Canadian Coke given to him from Between The Sheets (it contains real sugar) and I cracked open one of my last and cherished Leinenkugel Berry Weiss’.

Deciding to stay in the same spot for one more day, today was spent on boat projects.  I was ready to tackle that lee cloth to get it finished once and for all, and Matt needed to go up the mast to untangle our spinnaker halyard.  I thought I’d be lucky like I was earlier this year when he went up by himself using ascenders, but since there wasn’t a spare line he was going to need me to haul him up.  My muscles were not as strong as I hoped they would be and it was a slow but steady struggle to get him up.  With a couple of twists our halyard was free and we’d be able to use our headsail again.  It was a little embarrassing on our way down yesterday getting passed by every boat in the bay under full sail.  We’ll show all of you tomorrow on our way to Annapolis!

Taking a break from the lee cloth to do some writing.

We finally have our ‘view from atop the mast’ photo!

Panoramic view of our anchorage.

9.22.12 (3)

The Roughest Passage You’ll Ever Make

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.

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 chartplotter. 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.

Found our boat buddy across the bay!

Storm coming in over the C&D.

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)