Archive for May, 2008

Entry for May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008

Lighthouse near Saugerties, NY (Catskill mountains in the background).

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Entry for May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008

“Downtown” Manhattan from the harbor

Entry for May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008

Second Wind on a mooring in Hyde Park Landing Marina

Entry for May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008

Shore of West Point on a calm afternoon.

Entry for May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008

Clifs along the Hudson River (above Nyack) where we anchored on Wednesday night.

Entry for May 30, 2008

May 30, 2008

The past 3 days motoring up the Hudson River have been awesome.  We’ve had perfectly calm water (except for the occasional barge stirring things up) and sunny, warm days along with cool nights excellent for sleeping.

Around noontime on Wednesday we left the anchorage in Atlantic Highlands on the NJ side of Sandy Hook.  The winds had calmed to about 15 knots out of the north and we were motoring into a 2 foot chop that slowed us down a little for the 10 mile ride to NYC harbor.  As we were approaching the Verrazano’s Bridge, several U.S. Navy warships were leaving including a marine assault ship and a couple heavy cruisers.  We gave them a large share of the waterway as they were being protected by NYC Police boats and U.S. Coast Guard cutters.  It was quite a sight anyway.  The ships were in New York City for “Fleet Week” and Memorial Day weekend.

We motored through the harbor and spent a little time near the Statue of Liberty to check out an anchorage we heard about behind it and give Laura a chance to see the lady up close. 

As we proceeded north on the Hudson the water calmed down when the ferry traffic (and their associated wakes) subsided.  We motored under the George Washington Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge before anchoring near the western shore just above Nyack, NY.  We spent a quiet night on the anchor as we enjoyed the lights from the bridge and calm waters.

The next morning we were underway at 5:30 am to take advantage of the flood tide coming up the river.  Traveling on the Hudson River with a slow boat is an exercise in playing the tides.  There is about a 2 knot current going up the river with a flood tide and a 2 knot current coming back down with an ebb tide.  If you time it right going up, you can keep a helpful current all day as the tide works its way up the river at 10-15 knots.  The current lags the tide by a couple hours.  The high tide was at 4 am and by leaving at 5:30 we would still catch the flood current before it switched.  For maximum effect we should have left around 2 am but that was too wacko.

We had a helpful tide for most of the day until we approached West Point where the current started going against us.  I watched the GPS speed slowly go from 6.5 knots to 4.5 knots over the next 2 hours.  As we entered the large bay approaching Newburgh, the wind picked up from the west and we rolled out the jib and mainsail.  We averaged about 6 knots for the next couple hours as we played the winds and kept the engine running at low RPMs to keep us moving through the calms.  It’s interesting to think about 150 years ago when boats sailed up and down the Hudson without motors.  With the hills around each side, the winds are quite sporadic and never come from the same direction for more than about 10 minutes.  I was starting to appreciate the tradewinds of the Caribbean which blow steady all day, every day.

Around 3 pm we motored past Hyde Park and noticed open moorings near the shore and there were signs directing transient boaters to a couple at the up-river end.  We circled around and tied up to one of the moorings that was about 100 feet from shore.  Our depth sounder was reading 45-50 feet.  The bottom must go straight down from the shore here.

We lowered the dinghy and put the motor on to head into the marina office and pay for the mooring.  It was $20 / night (I was hoping for less – one of the marinas on the lower Hudson was $5 a mooring) so we paid and walked up the hill to Rt. 9 and had our first chance to stretch our legs since Annapolis 5 days ago.  We visited a local Amish Market that had mostly organic foods (read “expensive”) so we only bought a few veggies and some nice looking ground sirloin for dinner burgers.  Back to the boat around 4 pm and I took a nap as I hadn’t had much sleep in the past several days.  We later watched a DVD and went to bed early.

This morning we slept in a little and I untied from the mooring around 7:30 am.  We caught the tide all the way to our marina in Catskill where we tied up right at noon. 

As we motored by Saugerties I emailed a co-worker and boating friend I knew at Farm Family insurance and said something like, “I’m out here boating on a beautiful, calm river enjoying the Sun and warmth.  What are you doing?”  About 5 minutes later my phone rang and I was told, “Some of us have to work for a living!”  It was fun and we’re looking forward to seeing both old and new friends at the boat this summer. 

WE’RE HERE!  YEA!

The picture is Second Wind at her new summer home…..

Entry for May 27, 2008

May 30, 2008

Second Wind is now anchored in Chesapeake City, Maryland after a very calm and stress-free day motoring up the north end of Chesapeake Bay. 

I was up early this morning as I wanted to be at Buddy’s Crab House for their breakfast buffet when they opened at 8:30 am.  I woke up and looked at the clock which said 7:30 so I got up and showered then woke up Laura who also showered.  I then updated all my weather websites on the free wi-fi Internet in Annapolis harbor while waiting for Laura to get out of the shower.  As she joined me in the salon she said, “Did you know it’s only 7:15 am?”  Holy Cow!  I had mis-read the clock and got us up an hour early.  We used the time to get the boat ready to leave the mooring and took the dinghy into town around 8:10.

The buffet was just as good as I remembered.  My favorite was the omelet bar where you pick out all the fixings and put them in a little cardboard cup to hand to the person cooking the omelets.  I loaded up on shrimp, crab meat and scallops along with a few mushrooms and onions.  This seafood omelet was excellent and I highly recommend it.  We finished up breakfast (I think I had 3 breakfasts) and headed back to the boat.  Once there we pulled up the dinghy motor and secured it to the rail.  I then hauled up the dinghy while Laura worked downstairs finishing up stowing gear.  Even though the weather report was for calm winds and seas, we don’t take any chances.  Everything gets stowed just like we were heading to sea and expecting 10 foot waves (well…  maybe not that bad….).

We pulled our lines from the mooring and were underway out of Annapolis harbor by 9:30 am.  We motored up a VERY busy Chesapeake Bay toward the northern end where we would enter the Chesapeake and Delaware (C & D) Canal.  The day was uneventful and we entered the Chesapeake City anchorage about 2 miles into the C & D Canal around 7 pm.

We were only about 100 feet into the anchorage when the depth sounder alarm went off and we almost immediately went aground in soft mud (I can tell all the bottom types from how they feel now).  The anchorage looked pretty full and the town was in a definite party mood so we weren’t sure if we should try again or not.  But, the next good anchorage was about 15 miles away so I decided to try entering more to port and the bottom never went below 7 feet.  We entered the anchorage and motored SLOOOWWWLY around while checking the bottom depth and trying not to run into all the powerboats anchored.  I finally decided to anchor right in front of the marina where we could make a quick get-away easily in the early morning hours.  I definitely would not have enjoyed this anchorage if there was any wind predicted for the night or we were staying more then 6 or 7 hours.  We were very close to other boats and the band from the marina sounded like it was right outside our boat.

Laura made spaghetti for dinner which we ate in the cockpit watching all the “go-fast” boats with their big V8 engines idle around the marina.  The place was a real zoo and we enjoyed every minute of it.  Everyone was looking at us as we were the only big, cruising sailboat anchored in the harbor.  I was glad I had cleaned 3,000 miles from the hull in Annapolis and we polished the stainless rails just today.  The boat looked pretty spiffy!

We will be leaving at 2:30 am to take advantage of the tides in the C & D Canal as well as Delaware Bay.  The weather looks excellent for sailing up the coast to NYC over the next 2 days with southwest winds 15-20 knots that will push us right up the coast.  Then there are thunderstorms predicted for Tuesday evening which we will spend somewhere in NY Harbor catching up on sleep.  The rest of the week looks excellent for sailing up the Hudson River and I’m really looking forward to it.

Around 10 am today we motored behind the breakwater at Atlantic Highlands Marina near Sandy Hook, NH.  We filled up our fuel tank (this is supposed to be one of the least expensive marinas on the Hudson River) and were not too surprised to see the diesel at $4.62 / gallon.  The guys at the pump told us it had gone up about 40 cents in the past 3 days.  YIKES!  Oh well….  This tank will probably last us all summer and I think of it as money in the bank if the diesel continues to go up.

Our trip from the Chesapeake City anchorage was exciting.  We left the anchorage at 2:30 am and motored east on the C & D Canal for the 12 miles to the Delaware River.  The tides were going against us in the canal as I watched our speed drop from 5.2 to 3.8.  The good news was the tide was with us going down the Delaware River as we average 7 – 8 knots for the next 3 hours.  We were in the open part of Delaware Bay when the tide switched so it didn’t affect us as much.  This was why we left at 2:30 am.

As we sailed down Delaware Bay the winds gradually increased and moved to directly ahead of us so we started tacking down the bay.  There were several other sailboats doing the same thing and we had fun tacking around each other.  As we neared the Cape May shore the wind switched to the west which was bad because we had just finished a long eastern tack.  We now had to fight back to the west so we could clear Cape May and head up the coast.

We motorsailed toward the cape for about 3 hours to make the last 10 miles.  As we neared the turnpoint I was not so happy with my plotted course around the shoals and the current wind and waves.  The wind had increased to 25 knots and the seas were building over 5 feet.  My course around the cape took us within ¼ mile of the shore which was a little unnerving for both of us.  The boat was bouncing around pretty good as we rounded the cape and started turning northeast up the NJ coast.  I had assumed the ride would become better as we turned downwind but the waves were getting big and the wind was blowing about 10 knots over the predicted 20.  We rolled in about 1/3 of the mainsail and let it all the way out to starboard which started our downwind run to NYC.  We slowly worked our way out to 8 miles off-shore where the waves calmed down a little as the water got deeper.  At 8 miles we were sill in only 50 feet.  The NJ coast is very shallow.

We settled in for a very restless day and night as the winds held in the high 20s and the seas stayed around 8 feet.  As the Sun went down it got colder and we bundled up to keep warm.  At one point in the night I had on a long-sleeve workout t-shirt, two sweatshirts, a golf jacket, my wet weather jacket, long-johns (don’t know why I brought these to the Caribbean) and sweatpants.  That kept me warm through the night watches.  I hadn’t slept much in the past few days so Laura was great and let me (try and) relax below for about 4 hours.  I maybe had 2 hours of sleep because the boat was moving around so much.  She woke me at 4 am and I watched the sky brighten with the dawn.

Around this time the winds had calmed down to the mid-teens so I rolled out the jib and the boat was moving nicely at 6-7 knots.  This only lasted for about an hour as the wind continued to drop which makes the jib unhappy on broad-reach (wind coming from aft of the beam).  I rolled in the jib and eventually rolled in the main while starting the engine.  By 7 am we were motoring along on a calming sea with a gently falling rain.  The rain lasted for most of the morning until just before we pulling into the fuel dock.  We were both exhausted as we had hot showers and sacked out for the rest of the morning.

We’re now watching the thunderstorms zoom by as the weather here is till unsettled.  This is why we didn’t continue up the Hudson River today (plus we needed a little sleep).  Tomorrow we’ll be up early to catch the morning tide as we enjoy the next two days of predicted sunny weather on the Hudson River.

The picture is Chesapeake City Marina (in the C&D Canal) on Memorial Day weekend.  It was PARTY TIME!!

Entry for May 21, 2008

May 21, 2008

We’ve spent the past couple days doing some local shopping (via free bicycle from the marina) and working on my engine problems. I eventually found a fuel leak in the high pressure pump that was coming from a rotted gasket on a small access panel. I took everything apart and put it back together with a new gasket I made and new screws I purchased at the local hardware store. I’m not sure the leak is entirely fixed so I will monitor it closely over the next couple days to make sure it is not seeping through.

Laura spent most of today doing laundry. The marina has one washer and one dryer so it is very slow. The dryer takes a long time so she had all 4 loads washed before the first one was dry. Finally, by 2:30 pm, she was done and we accepted an offer of a borrowed car from the broker to do some “heavy” groceries (things we wouldn’t want to carry) at the local market like soda and meats. We finished the groceries then had the broker and his wife (they both work at the brokerage) over for cocktails and munchies. It was fun to spend some time with them talking about our travels and the current brokerage market which isn’t very good as you might expect.

Later that evening we watched several of our favorite TV shows which still seems like a treat for us. One of our favorites – Lost – is so different from the last time we saw it, we can’t follow what’s happening. If someone has the last two years of Lost or CSI (the Vegas one) on DVD, please let us know if we can borrow them to bring us up-to-date.

ARRRRGH! It’s now day 3 of my engine fuel leak repair and it’s still leaking. I’ve tried different gasket materials and sealers (Permatex) and, so far, they all let the diesel seep through. My latest concoction looks good so far (it’s drying very hard) but I can’t pressurize it for a couple hours until it cures. If it doesn’t work I guess I’ll have to breakdown and go see the guys in the boatyard. I’ve been hesitant with doing that because my experience with having some else work on this type of problem hasn’t been good and I don’t want to spend $100 / hour for a mechanic to try his 3 or 4 different methods before getting it right. Oh well, I’ll let you know how it works out.

YEA! It looks like the 4th time was a charm with fixing my engine fuel leak. The leak is plugged and we’ve cleaned up the engine room (leaking fuel makes a big mess…). Laura also worked on fixing a small leak in our galley faucet and that looks much better too. Now that the boat is “ship shape” and we’ve stocked up the larder, we’ll be on our way again.

Tomorrow we will head north to an anchorage near the Solomon’s (about 60 miles). The next day we will head to the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay to the Choptank River and the town of Cambridge. We’re heard they have a great boating community there with a pot-luck dinner on Friday nights. That should be fun.

On Saturday we will head farther north to Annapolis and pick up a mooring for the night near the downtown area. I really love the Sunday brunch at Buddies Crab House and, if we keep to schedule, we’ll make it one more time.

After Sunday our schedule is a little more fuzzy. We may head to Baltimore for a day or two before crossing the C & D Canal to Delaware Bay. We’re thinking of doing a day-night-day sail from the C & D Canal to New York City where we might anchor near Sandy Hook. That’s about a 190 mile trip which we should be able to cover easy in 36 hours if the wind Gods cooperate.

After that it’s 2-3 days up the Hudson to our home for the summer in the Catskill Marina.

The weather over the next 5-6 days here looks awesome so we’re hoping to put some quality miles under the keel in the next week.

Entry for May 18, 2008

May 18, 2008

It is very hard for us to believe but we are back in Deltaville, VA – just 1 slip over from where we left for our 539 day, 6,771 mile cruise to the Caribbean.  The place looks very much the same as when we left and we are looking forward to receiving mail (which Laura’s parents have been holding for us) and “hanging out” for a few days in this delightful area.  2 days ago I called the boat broker that sold us the boat and asked if they had a brokerage dock available that we could use for a couple days.  They were very pleasant and said we would be welcome to use one of their slips at the Deltaville Marina.

We departed the courtesy docks at Great Bridge for the 8 am bridge opening and lock through.  This is the only lock in the ICW and keeps the tides on the Norfolk side from affecting the area to the south.  I think we only went up 1 foot at the lock and by 8:30 we were motoring north toward Norfolk.  There were 3 other bridges that had to open for us and only the first one was on a schedule – it was only 3 miles away but wouldn’t open until 9 am so we kept our speed down and enjoyed the slower-than-normal ride on this quiet morning.

We cleared all the bridges and motored through Norfolk.  I really enjoy cruising through Norfolk.  There are a lot of sights along the waterway including many huge Navy ships.  The battleship Wisconsin is permanently docked there and it is a free tour that we may check out someday.  There was only one aircraft carrier at the main docks and the place seemed more empty than normal.  I guess this is a busy time of year for the Navy at sea.

The winds were almost calm as we motored onto the Chesapeake Bay and headed north.  We had the mainsail up but it wasn’t doing much.  The only waves on the huge bay were from powerboats and we watched several sailboat races as they tried to make use of the 5 knot (or less) winds with large, brightly colored spinnakers.  The day was uneventful until around 4 pm when we were about 10 miles south of Deltaville.  The wind increased to 10-15 knots so we rolled out the jib and shutdown the engine (YEA!).  We were moving along nicely at 6-7 knots as the wind gradually increased to over 20 knots.  Now we felt overpowered so we rolled in ¼ of the main and ¼ of the jib.  That felt better until the wind increased to 30 knots.  What is going on?!?!  First we have no wind and 15 minutes later we’re in a crystal clear sky squall.  We pulled in the mainsail completely and zoomed along at 7-8 knots on about ¾ jib.  It was a lively sail.

We sailed within 1 mile of the Deltaville entrance as I hit the engine starter to pull in our sail and motor through the narrow channel.  I put the transmission in gear and pushed up the throttle.  Nothing happened. The wind was making so much noise I hadn’t noticed the engine didn’t start.  This was the first time in 18 months that the engine hasn’t started within 2 seconds of hitting the starter switch.  Did it know it was coming back to Deltaville?

I had Laura hit the starter as I quickly checked out the engine.  It was turning over but wouldn’t start.  We weren’t too far from the lee shore near the harbor entrance so we tacked a couple times and dropped the anchor in calm water ¼ mile from shore.  Laura was up on the bow watching the anchor chain while I went below to check things out.  If a diesel engine turns over but doesn’t start, 99% of the time it’s a fuel problem.  I loosened the fuel lines to the injectors and turned over the engine.  This would bleed any air from these lines and let me know if fuel was getting to the cylinders.  At first nothing happened then gradually fuel started leaking from the loosened fittings.  The “at first nothing happened” was the key.  That meant there was air in the fuel lines when I started.  After making sure the fuel was coming out of all 4 injector lines I stopped the starter and tightened the fittings.  The engine started up after turning over for about 5 seconds. 

I stopped the engine and started it a couple times to make sure everything was ok.  It was working fine so I went upstairs to tell Laura the good news.  This is a good story on how highly focused she is.  Before going downstairs to check out the engine I had told her to watch the anchor and make sure we weren’t dragging into the many crab pots behind us.  She took this very seriously and never left the bow while I was working.  When I told her the engine was fixed she said, “I think we need to let out more chain.  I don’t like the angle.”  I think I did one of those head tilts like when a dog hears a weird sound and said, “It doesn’t matter.  We’re not staying.”  She was so focused on making sure we didn’t move on the anchor she didn’t realize that a running engine meant we could leave.  Ya gotta love her!

We motored into the narrow channel and several people helped us tie up at the brokerage slip.  After squaring away the boat we took cocktails ashore and chatted with people from the docks who keep their boats here year-round.  They had remembered us from 18 months ago and asked tons of questions about where we had been.  It was fun to be back but sad at the same time to be leaving all the friends and sights of the Caribbean behind.

My main job for today is checking out the fuel lines and finding the root cause of my engine problems.  Don’t worry.  I’ll find it.

Entry for May 16, 2008

May 16, 2008

Crab fishermen on the North Landing River