A Travellerspoint blog

July 2013

Cape May, NJ ..... Again

rain 88 °F

Friday was not a good boat day which means that it was not a good day ..... at all. We started getting ready to leave about 0600; there was no reason to hurry, the trip from Atlantic City to Cape May is only about 40 nm, including both channels. Stowed the electrical cables, started the engine, singled up the mooring lines and then the fun began. Tried to power up the chart plotter ..... bupkus, nada, zip.

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Looked at the other electrical .... none of the DC circuits that recharge our several phones, iPads, computers, etc. were working; every device was draining power. It was deja vu all over again, a repeat of what happened in Oriental before we headed north. Same chart plotter symptom: no power to either unit .... at the helm or in the cabin.

Somehow, once again, a commonplace electrical issue had bled over from the DC outlets to the instrument circuit. This is, of course, still not possible, except that it has happened twice. I messed with things and made no progress for several hours. Finally, Carol rented a car so that we could go to West Marine and Radio Shack to get new parts and pieces. Worked some more hours with frustrations at every step of the way. The list is too long and it would sound like whining because it is whining. Every time I closed things up, thinking that I was through, something required going back and doing it again, and again, and again. About 1800 (6pm) everything actually worked. The concern is that I really don't know what the problem was so I don't know whether stuff worked because of what I did or despite what I did. Which is to say that it may happen again. Part of the issue is fuses, the old glass cylinder type, of which our boat has nine. The fuses look OK, ie the metal filament is intact, but either no power flows or reduced power flows. How this gets at the navigation system is the mystery. As a precaution, I stocked up on fuses.

Carol summed up the day when she said, "This will make it easy for you to sell the boat." Unfortunately, we have another issue with the chart plotter that we may be able to resolve in Cape May, having found someone to look at the issue. Either way, that may make it even easier.

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Saturday was an OK boat day and an OK day. We got to Cape May without issue. It was a bumpy ride into the wind but we made good enough time and were moored securely just after lunch, which suited Carol just fine. She had an appointment to get her hair done and was much concerned about keeping that appointment. There are just some things that "regular guys" will never understand about women, beauty parlours being, possibly, a top ten item on that list. There will never be a gender bending version of Steel Magnolias with old guys sitting around on lumpy chairs with torn naugahyde upholstery reading years old copies of Popular Science, Guns & Ammo and Sports Illustrated, but never the swimsuit issue, and getting more hair cut from their noses, ears and eyebrows than their heads. Not much visual drama there.

Carol was resplendent with her hair just the right shade of chemical red, replacing streaky mauve and puce with accent streaks of neon orange. A visit to the salon almost always makes her feel better, more confident, a better self image. I swear, from a mile away, that I could hear her singing as she walked back to the boat:

I feel pretty
Oh so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and bright

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Anyway, you have to be old enough to remember West Side Story. Point two on Carol's agenda was another visit to the Lobster House restaurant; having cooked one night in a row she thought that this was her due, so we did. Once again she managed to avoid the tuna melt. Of course, all the excitement of having her hair done, eating out and spending 10 minutes on the helm wore her out and she was asleep before 8PM.

My agenda only had one item: get nekkid and get into the very nice showers here at the marina. I did both.

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Sunday was not a good boat day which means that it was not a good day ..... at all. Our chart plotter/radar system is a monochrome antique but had always performed well and we are used to it; a color screen has never seemed, a priori, a value adding proposition. The system has two displays, one at the helm and one in the cabin. An area of the screen on the unit at the helm had gone bad, readable, but with difficulty. My bright idea was to swap the units which we did Saturday morning before getting underway. It mostly worked except for the radar, a resource on which we have come to depend. I called ahead and, improbably, had a guy that came over to the boat on Saturday afternoon to look at the system after we arrived. Warren looked more like a termite inspector that a marine electronics specialist, but he knew his stuff. He was unable to resolve the issue without a call to Raymarine, not open on Saturday. He did mention that the radar cable was usually 10 meters long and the cartoon "idea" light bulb went off over my head. If we could find the cable we could reroute it to the cabin and everything would work, MAYBE!

On Sunday morning we found the cable in a very inaccessible part of the boat and it seemed, on inspection, to be long enough to reach the main cabin. Then the fun began, a concatenation of actions that typify the most aggravating aspect of boating. The cable has a 1.25 inch connector/lock and was too big to get through the channel in the sole of the cockpit. So, to get the connector and cable through the cockpit sole it was necessary to remove the Morse cables that control the engine speed and transmission. In order to remove the Morse cables it was necessary to disassemble the Teleflex throttle control. To access the Teleflex throttle it was necessary to remove the helm and autopilot. To get to the pieces that I dropped I had to remove the panel with the rode chain counter. We had to empty one lazarette and most the the galley cabinets to access the cable run. We did all of these things. Finally, we rerouted the cable, drilled a bunch of holes, got the cable to the unit, hooked it up and, voilĂ , the payoff was a working, readable navigation system at the helm with radar. Eight hours on Sunday, several more on Monday. This type of work would have cost $100/hr. So, I guess, we can appreciate the sweat equity we have invested in the boat. But, if that's such a good deal, why didn't we enjoy it?

On the plus side, if there is one, I found two potential disasters. I had to get under the steering mechanism to access the Morse cables and the radar cable and, while there, found a nut and washer, one of four, on the steering mechanism that had fallen off. I probably hadn't been in that space in two years, or so. We have an emergency manual bilge pump built in and I noticed that part of it was cracked and it probably would not have worked. Finding these sorts of issues is never a positive thing because the next question is always: What else have I missed?

Monday was a very busy day but without the stress of: what if I cannot do this, what if I do it and it doesn't work. That was until I started checking out an error message on the battery monitor panel. It indicated a blown fuse, or interrupted circuit to the house battery bank. Using Occam's Razor, I took several of the right fuses to the lazarette and we both cleared things out to access the batteries. Sometimes the good friar's razor cuts wrong, to wit, we had a broken positive battery post connector, improbable to the max. It's a fairly simple replacement unless you have about a jillion wires connected, old hands and nearby negative terminals against with these positive wires can short, all true in this instance. Got this problem fixed and the battery monitor is still goofy. The question I cannot answer is whether there is a real problem or the monitor is hosed. I'm pretty sure it's the latter .... I hope.

It seems, at times, as if events are conspiring against us or, maybe, we're being tested; regardless, the number of hurdles between us and Brunswick has appeared unreasonably large and growing. Any pretense about a "fun trip" has gone away; we are now on a working trip to get the boat back to Brunswick, GA and the to-do list grows daily. Strangely, this is hectic but seems normal and, in a left handed way, comfortable despite the anxiety. We have a goal and are focused on that attaining that goal. It sometimes seems that Carol and I do better under adversity, working to achieve an end than we do in "playing and having fun."

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We had thought to go to Ocean City, MD before heading to Norfolk. That would have shortened the trip by about 40 nm. I think that Carol wanted to ride the roller coaster, ironic since in 2-ft. waves she is heaving chunks over the side. But the weather forecast has winds from the north on Wednesday and we plan to hitchhike on those to speed the trip south.

The order of travel is:

1. Cape May to Norfolk, VA: 180 nm ~ two days, one night
2. Norfolk to Morehead City, VA, via the ICW to avoid Cape Hatteras: 180 nm - four days, no night travel
3. Morehead City to Charleston, SC, 220 nm ~ two days, two nights
4. Charleston to Brunswick, 160 nm - two days, one night

And miles to go before we sleep,
And miles to go before we sleep
.

This will be the last blog entry for a while. This is all territory we have covered before. I will probably do a recap when we reach Brunswick.

Posted by sailziveli 14:23 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

Atlantic City, NJ

sunny 92 °F

They came by boats into the Great Salt Pond; they came by ferries into the Old Harbor. Regardless, they came. Too many people .... an area much, much smaller than the township of Spring Creek had more people standing in line for restaurants and bars than there are in all of Madison County, NC. And it was hot, the warmest for that day on record. The Great Salt Pond was crowded with boats at anchor, not enough room to let out proper scope or to swing safely with the wind and tide. As much as we wanted to see the island, we had waited too long, the island was overrun. The time to have visited was in June like we did with Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

It was good to be quit with that place. At 0513 on Tuesday, there was light enough to see, barely, and we were underway for Atlantic City. The prevailing wind at this latitude at this time of year is from the SW, the exact direction we were headed. Normally this would have made for a long, not very pleasant slog into headwinds and waves. The other reason to leave was a brief window with winds from the N/NNE, not a lot of wind, and it was forecast to deform and diminish overnight. In the event, the wind held for more than 24 hours and provided an extra boost along the way. We motor sailed and made very good time, far better than expected, hitting the channel into Atlantic City before the marina opened at 0800.

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The weather was absolutely perfect, the wind helpful, the skies clear but a little hazy, the seas had a gentle swell, giving the boat a comfortable rolling motion so that we knew we were at sea. So what could spoil such an ideal passage? It's been five years since we have cruised in July or August and some things get forgotten. Block Island's parting gift for the trip was a cast of stowaways: most of the black flies that had been on the island hopped aboard the Ziveli in anticipation of a dinner cruise .... and Carol and I were the dinner. It was an insect version of Tora, Tora, Tora as wave after wave flew into, then attacked us in the cockpit. Kill some, others were waiting around outside to take their places. They weren't huge, except for the part that bites which was very large, indeed, able to cut through t-shirts. The fly swatters were busy but I seem to be losing some hand/eye coordination because I was a lot less than lethal, my SpK (swats per kill) ratio being unacceptably much higher than a perfect 1.0. As the bug body count mounted and so did the mess on the sole of the cockpit. This bodes ill for the four days that we will spend on the ICW, from Norfolk to Morehead City, to avoid Cape Hatteras.

Long Island passed below the horizon about noon. Not too much later we were south of Moriches Inlet, passing close by the location where TWA 800 fell from the sky, in pieces, one day early for the event anniversary on July 17th. It's closing in on twenty years, now, since that tragedy in 1996. It seems more recent than that. Too many disasters have created milestones which mark the passages of our lives.

Carol had remarked that we hadn't seen any porpoises since we arrived in Montauk. A little after lunch we saw our first ones, maybe five or six. For the five years and fifty weeks that we have owned the boat I have been trying to take a picture of any porpoise, any time, anywhere but these guys are way quick and all I have to show for my efforts are many porpoiseless pictures of ripples, splashes and empty water. In the evening a gam/pod/school swept by the boat, at least 50, probably more. A smaller group broke off and buzzed the boat which was way cool. I know it's sentimentally anthropomorphic, but they just seem so exuberant and playful, showing off just because they can. They also seem to define fluidity and grace in the water. Of course, if I were a 6-in. fish lower down the food chain my opinion would probably be different. Patience and perseverance were, finally, rewarded: a photo "trophy" at the end of a long hunt.

Carol saw some sea turtles, which I missed, no pictures. This seems farther north that I would have thought that they ranged.

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That night the sun seemed to sink into the muck and mire of haze and smog over New York. While the EPA may decry the pollution, observers can appreciate the unintended consequences of absorbing all of the light spectrum except for red and orange. There was a half moon overhead when I started my 0300 watch, bright and high in the sky. As the moon passed to the west and got lower in the sky, it went from white, to yellow through red, each shade of color a little less bright than the last as the light passed through more and more of the atmosphere. Finally, it seemed not so much to have set as to have been extinguished, just disappearing from view, the dimming light finally fading to nothingness. It was much more beautiful than I can describe; I understand the science of the event but cannot relate the inherent poetry of what I saw. What we didn't see was the penumbra of light on the horizon that usually marks large cities. I expected to see a large halo of light and that we would just aim for the middle. It's a good thing that the GPS worked.

We waited around the channel entrance for a while for someone from the marina to respond and give us mooring instructions. It's a municipal marina so they took their time. We had been observing a dredge in the channel area for a while; when we started into the channel it seemed to occupy all of the space with dredging stuff spread from side to side. It was pretty easy to decide I didn't know what I should be doing or where I should be going; turned around and headed back out. Tried to hail the dredge on VHF 16 ... no response. Called TowBoat US and they told me to try VHF 13, which worked. Got some instructions and had at it. It's not an overly complicated channel but with dodging stuff it was interesting enough.

The passage was remarkably easy and pleasant, about as big a no-brainer as these things can be: mash an autopilot button once in awhile, adjust sail trim when you get bored. But it was hot and dehydration causes fatigue. Regardless, we were both exhausted when the boat was finally moored. As an act of mercy, the first order of business was to hook up shore power and get the AC going. It was 94o when we arrived and Carol was in the full Nordic Princess mode, melting faster than Greenland's glaciers. No surprise there; she wears SPF one kajillion clothing that has the absorbency and comfort of Saran wrap; she lathers herself in sunscreen that, in a cooking emergency, could substitute for a can of Crisco, then goes into the hot weather and cooks herself like the chinese prepare beggar's chicken.

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The large building with the sloped top is interesting. From the front profile it looks huge; from the side it is only about two rooms wide, rather like a knife's blade, having a broad flat side and a thin, narrow edge. The first time I saw the side view I was unable to associate it with the front side until I saw the white dome on top.

Atlantic City's raison d'etre is simple: separate visitors from their money. This marina is no exception, being one of the most expensive in which we have stayed. Had I been able to guess that we would have made such good time, 6.4 knots vs. my "aggressive" estimate of 5.5 knots, I would have opted to head directly for Cape May which would have been easily doable at that speed. Since we're here, we'll spend a day looking around, if for no other reason than to convince ourselves that we don't want to stay any longer than that. In truth, we were both so worn out the next morning that getting underway would have been out of the question. It will be interesting to see how we hold up because we have four more night passages planned before reaching Brunswick.

From a distance, on the water, the city looked nice enough. When we started through the channel into the city, it got a lot rougher. Not much of the old Atlantic City remains; it has mostly been torn down, paved over and built up. There is not much grace or charm, even less of beauty here, I think, all three sacrificed to make the machine. There are some condos, townhouses and private residences in town. I can no more understand wanting to live here than these residents could understand wanting to live in Spring Creek. That divide is so alien as to be uncrossable.

We both did a little work each day but nothing very strenuous or tiring; it was just too hot and will remain so through the weekend. We are off tomorrow for Cape May, again and plan to stay there for the weekend.

Posted by sailziveli 19:26 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises boats boating tourist_sites Comments (0)

Block Island Sleepover

The Cruise Is Over .... It Just Hasn't Ended

sunny 84 °F

We figured that Carol could use another day to rest. So, after two days of maintenance we just hung out for the weekend in Newport. Nothing much that we wanted to do that we hadn't already done. Plus, we figured that the harbor in Block Island would clear out on Monday morning giving us a better chance of getting a mooring ball.

So, we did little in Newport. Carol started eating again managing to dine out two nights while we were there; kept it all down, too. Carol is an equal opportunity consumer of seafood, equally comfortable and satisfied with meals from each of the three major marine phyla: chordates (fish), arthropods (crabs & other crustaceans) and mollusks (shellfish). For all this, after years of watching, she has never ordered a $4.99 tuna melt, having a propensity for menu items that have market prices and for which the check comes with an AED lest the bill shock to the point of a heart attack. I always carry my nitro pills when we go out to eat... just in case.

Monday morning we were both up early, but in no hurry; it's only a 4-hr. trip. It was the first clear morning in a while, i.e. no fog. Busy with boat preparations, I kept noticing that the sunrise was really very nice. So, I had to stop my work and take another picture, and another, etc. Two different views of the same event on the same morning since I didn't want to choose between the two.

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The trip, as forecast, took just 4 hours, leaving at 0600 and arriving at 1000. The harbor master told us to take any lime green mooring ball that was open. What he neglected to say, until confronted face to face, was that there weren't any open lime green mooring balls. Anyone who believes that government works should go to a publicly managed marina (St. Augustine, FL, excluded) and compare that experience with any privately managed marina. No contest! Private enterprise wins 99 out of 100. So we anchored except this harbor is really deep. The shallow spot where we dropped the hook is over 20-ft. deep at low tide. Not a problem, just different, and a long way from the dinghy dock. We hung around the boat through lunch into the afternoon and the boats just kept coming and coming. We went ashore for dinner, Carol killing mollusks at this particular session. The place was just covered up. It's probably a sour grapes rationalization, but as much as we were looking forward to the visit, there are just too many people here for it to be much fun.

That afternoon, I decided to look at the wind forecast for the balance of the week. It pretty much came down to leave Tuesday and arrive in New Jersey on Wednesday or be prepared to stay here longer than a little while. We were not inclined to want to do that. Our enthusiasm for this visit is declining, so before 0500 Tuesday, 07/16, we will be underway for Atlantic City. The attraction of the place is that we can make the passage in two days and one night without too much worry, less than 36 hours. Cape May, the preferred destination, is 50 nm farther and requires two days and two nights. Who knows? Maybe we'll run into the Donald or the Boss.

The decision to make this crossing was not as spontaneous as our decision to leave the Abacos in 2012. But it has that hurried feel, unsettling, as if we are overlooking something important that will not be called to mind until it is too late. Hopefully, just nerves and not a premonition.

Posted by sailziveli 18:15 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises boating Comments (0)

Newport Isn't So Bad, Really

storm 73 °F

When getting ready to get underway, I decided to do the necessary, but recently useless, radio check. Sea Tow has an automated system that works in many areas. I had checked with them earlier and was told that channel 24 was at some remove from Provincetown but that it might work. Tried it .... got a response. So, maybe, the time, effort and money that went into replacing the VHF radio system was worth the investment, a rare nautical ROI.

Neither one of us was feeling very perky, both tired, both worn out. Carol had been understandably stressed for the three or four weeks since her sister's operation, something that takes a toll on her system. But, neither one of us was interested in hanging around Provincetown another day. The simple idea of being in motion, regardless of direction and destination, seemed therapeutic in itself.

So, we were underway that sunny Monday at 0730 for the Cape Cod Canal. The cormorants were lining the breakwater to see us off as we passed out of the harbor ..... maybe to wish us well, maybe to wish us gone. It's hard to tell with birds and cormorants are very tricky that way.

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If Cape Cod is a fishhook, then a brace of identical lighthouses mark both the ends of the barb, this one being the easternmost of the two. We passed both exiting the harbor and heading south.

I had thought that these square, not round, lighthouses were a modern addition to the Cape. Not so! They date to the 1870's. I'm not sure if they still work; I do not recall seeing this light in the harbor, although it may only show to the open water. I could check the chart, but some mystery is better.

They both sit near the beach by the open water, backed by natural dunes, uncluttered by any development. The land here is pretty low, the dunes, maybe, topping 20-ft. above mean low water; the rest much less. This portion of Cape Cod must certainly be awash when there is a storm surge of any note.

For all of the original art that we saw on display in town, I do not recall any devoted to this pair, which seems an oversight given their natural and beautiful surroundings.

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It was a simple plan: time the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal for a westward current, starting at 1043, go about another 25 nm from the canal, anchor for the night near New Bedford, then get to Block Island on Tuesday.

The plan was working, too. We hit the canal a little after 1100, zipped through in not much time, and then the frustration began. The wind forecast for the day was under 10 knots, a lousy day for sailing but a good day for motoring and making time, which we needed to do to get to New Bedford. We knew that the exit from the canal would be about like the entrance two weeks earlier: rough as a year old cob. This didn't disappoint. The wind in Buzzards Bay was a shock; once we left the canal it rarely was less than 25 knots, three times the prediction of eight knots. 25 knots directly on the bow is not good for motoring and making time. In fact, at the rate we were going it was problematic as to whether we could get to New Bedford before dark since we were generally running less than 4 knots into the wind and waves. I think that I may start to use kilometers instead of knots. 4 knots is very slow but 7.4 kilometers per hour is much faster.

About the waves .... they were breaking over the bow with such force that water was coming in through the canvas surround at the back stays, probably 33-ft. behind the bow of our 36-ft. boat. Haven't had that happen before. Not an easy day. There was another sailboat in front of us, less than 1/2 mile. It was larger, probably 44-ft., and, as a consequence, much heavier. It was amazing to watch that boat get tossed around, at times looking like it was going airborne, some inconsequential toy being enjoyed by a cosmic 3-year old. I could not imagine how we might have looked from a distance. We've been through gales on the open water and these waves were trifling by comparison. What is always the issue is not the size of the waves but the period between them. In the open water in bad weather there may be 10 seconds between waves and the boat can ride over them as it was designed to do. The period that day was, maybe, 2~3 seconds, just impossible for the boat, just impossible for the captain and the crew wasn't having any fun either.

When I had originally planned the transit from Provincetown to Block Island, I had broken it up into three days. I was cursing fate, and every named boating deity, while looking at the chart when I noticed that we were very close to Mattapoisett, MA, the place I had originally thought to stay at the end of day one of the three. We were both physically tired, the planned anchorages were OK for not much wind but would have been marginal for these winds, so we retired from Buzzards Bay for the shelter of a safe harbor in Mattapoisett. That's not quitting .... it's being a practical captain, the only kind that there is at 66 years of age. A warm shower, a cold drink and a hot dinner seemed like a good end to a difficult day. On my way to the warm shower I met another couple who also decided that Mattapoisett seemed like a better deal than getting beat up out on the Bay. So, maybe it wasn't a total wimp out.

Along the way, Carol, who had been feeling poorly, got full time sick .... stomach, intestinal, the whole magilla. Getting sick on the boat is ugly, any way, any day. The afternoon was so rough that it could only have made an already bad deal even worse. How sick was she? No interest in leaving the boat that evening for dinner. Poor baby!!!!

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I wasn't sure where we would stop on Tuesday; it might have been possible to get to Block Island from Mattapoisett, but that was not a given. What is usually a given is that I will have a firm navigation plan before we get underway, just not that day. Regardless, the earlier we started, the better the odds of reaching Block Island. Up at 0430, I was confronted with (a) a heavy fog, (b) the entire crew was very sick. I checked the weather forecast ... fog burns off by 0800; I can handle anything by myself for two hours.

When the light had gotten better I cast us off and headed out with the radar going. The question for the day was: what kind of fool would believe a weather forecast about fog burning off when the prior forecast did not even predict fog? Answer: one that looks a lot like me! 0800 came and went; the fog remained. Ditto 1000, 1100 and 1200 and 1300. Not much good in that situation except for this: I was concerned about a very empty radar screen so I started messing with settings and found a bunch of stuff that I had not much used. Changed the gain, changed some other stuff, changed the fine tuning settings and, voila, lots of stuff about which to be nervous, so I was. After having been surprised by four sailboats appearing like some Romulan warbird uncloaking next to us, all within 1/4 mile, i.e. very close, I had the eureka moment: very few sailboats up here have radar reflectors to improve their radar signatures. They spend hundreds of thousands on boats to sail, spend thousands on radar to see, but don't spend $50 to be seen. I would say that that makes them dangerous to themselves and to others, an abrogation of captains' fundamental responsibilities. But, I'm old and stupid, so what do I know?

Given the fog I decided that another stop in Newport, RI, seemed like a good idea. If Nantucket was my BA in fog, this trip was my graduate degree, well over 40 nm in a heavy fog. It wasn't until we were well into the main channel, approaching the inner harbor that things thinned out, maybe the last 2 nm. It was less fun than it sounds.

The other reason to stop in Newport was to get the bottom cleaned. In Provincetown we had picked up a hula skirt of bright green aquatic grass along the water line and I was concerned that the bottom might be getting covered too; plus the zinc needed to be replaced by this time. And, I knew it was about time for an oil change. To my disappointment when I checked my maintenance schedule, it was also time for the 250 hour engine service, a long and complicated list. The general boat maintenance list was 50 hours overdue. The two night stay in Newport became three nights to accommodate all the work to be done. I didn't know it at the time but the other "other reason" to stop in Newport was to get some Yanmar parts which we normally carry but had used the entire supply. There is a Yanmar dealer about three minutes away by dinghy and that business had all that we required.

I am truly getting to hate boat maintenance; on August 1st I will have been doing it for six years. It's ironic, I suppose, that at this point I actually mostly know what I am doing and can do it well enough having the right tools, the right parts and enough repetitious experience. But I'd rather take a whipping than change the alternator belt again.

I considered blowing off the list and just doing a minimum, like the oil. But, the sad fact is that there are untimed bombs on the list that can explode at any time. Having seen some of those bombs go off I get nervous when I break discipline. To wit, I always check fairleads and running rigging. For 5 years and 49 weeks, always the same thing: all is well, except during this inspection I found a fairlead that was badly deteriorated and, as a result, was sawing the main sheet in two, a situation most sailors would try to avoid. I carry spare fairleads but had to work to find a store that could replace the 70-ft. long 7/16-in line. All the running rigging is now as it should be.

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There is weather coming through, again; Carol is still feeling poorly, better but weak. So, rather than travel to Block Island as planned, we'll spend the weekend in Newport. Hopefully, she'll feel better. But, once again, we're sitting somewhere we don't want to be .... not moving, burning away the month of July to no particular end. Maine is gone, and it feels as if everything else is slipping away, too. Life on the boat, I guess.

Posted by sailziveli 14:25 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating lighthouse Comments (0)

Da' Blog .... Back on Line

sunny 75 °F

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Carol returned on Saturday, on the 1900, 7pm, ferry having left on Monday on the 1030 ferry. Things went well enough, her sister was well enough, enough of the right stuff got done that she was able to return to the boat. Her return was a good thing; the circumstances that allowed her to exercise the choice to return were good things. Those with very sharp eyes may be able to do the "Where's Waldo" thing and pick her out from the many passengers on deck.

Things always change. After eight days of unrelenting rain, bailing the dinghy once or twice a day; after eight days of unending winds, winds so strong that many days the wind generator had to be shut down and secured; after eight days where the sun never broke through the clouds .... the low pressure passed and was replaced by fair weather. In fact, the fair weather seemed a lot like actual summer ..... hot, way hot, with only desultory breezes to stir the air. Maybe it wasn't so much hot as it was the contrast, the contrast between cool, windy, rainy days and hot and still air that followed.

We talked on Sunday about the options: Maine remains an impractical option; it's too early to head back; so, we decided that we'll try to make lemonade of the situation by going to Block Island and then heading slowly West through Long Island Sound, topping along the way, then taking the East River through New York City and then hopscotching down the Jersey shore.

When we arrive back in Norfolk, VA, we will be in the boat delivery mode, headed south. That will probably entail a stopover in Charleston; Carol has an affinity for Hyman's restaurant, a purveyor of Carolina low country cuisine that seems to consist mostly of grits, grease and gravy. She likes it.

It should be fun; there are some good places to visit; we won't be under any particular time pressure to push a schedule. We'll have a chance to enjoy boating which we both dearly love.

Posted by sailziveli 19:03 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

Still in Provincetown

storm 69 °F

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It has a certain beauty, I suppose, if beauty can be austere, maybe ascetic, without becoming an oxymoron. Days cast in shades of gray. The water ... dark slate punctuated with white froth. The sky ... charcoal, sometimes, low clouds thick, heavy and gravid with rain. The horizon .... light gray, sometimes, as low fog ebbs and flows, pushed and pulled by the wind, shrinking our visible world to just the few boats that are closest. That 252 ft. tower on the 100 ft. bluff ... might still be there, can't really tell, doesn't much matter anyway.

I thought it beautiful. This duck, however, seemed quite unimpressed with the aesthetics whole deal, more concerned about the immediate, practical implications of the weather, having to work quite hard to make headway against the wind and waves, a serious journey eclipsing our modest endeavors.

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We had had a couple of cloudy days, not much wind and the batteries were draining. Not serious, yet, but always a concern. Got up Friday morning at 0600 and we were down 75 Ah (amp hours), not quite 1/3 of the available power until the critical 50% point that should never be crossed. Battery central is on the rear bulkhead in the galley. No particular reason for it to be there. The top panel, for the solar panels, was there when we bought the boat. It seemed reasonable to put the, then, new Xantrex unit near it. Before 1800, 12 hours, the wind generator, BY ITSELF, had completely recharged the batteries, unprecedented during five years with both supplemental power systems. That is by way of saying that it has been windy averaging more than 20 kts., very steady, and well over 30 kts. in gusts.

Carol, generally unaware of such details, will be pleased, since we will probably be able shut the generator down for the night, to the benefit of her beauty sleep, and count on the wind to perform a similar miracle tomorrow.

It has rained over the several nights, once again filling the dinghy and floating the gas can. We have bailed and pumped the dinghy dry more times since we arrived at Lake Montauk than we have in all the years prior to that event. A dinghy ride to the dock to take a shower .... Fuggedaboutit‎! Clean and dry, I would quickly have become a wet salty dog if the dinghy made it back to our boat without capsizing. Had I tried that I would certainly have worn a life jacket, usually a needless appurtenance, despite the several laws requiring their use.

The harbor here is inside the "hook" of the Cape. That hook has truncated the fetch to about a mile and made the waves somewhat less severe. There is not enough height to the land to do anything about attenuating the wind, so it rumbles past us, and the duck, unabated. There will be more Magic Fingers Mattress Massager nights. You don't really need a water bed if your bed is on the water during nights like these.

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Everything is damp, the humidity at 100% although the Dew Point has not caused a problem; the inside walls of the boat are not dripping with condensation as happens occasionally. The fog outside the boat must also be inside the boat .... it's the same moisture saturated air, I think. Towels don't dry; cotton clothing left out wicks the moisture from the air and the clothing feels dank, clingy and unclean when worn. There has been enough rain that the cockpit is quite wet, high winds pushing the water through the openings in the canvas that accommodate the two backstays and the solar panels.

The barometer has been falling steadily for several days, now down to 29.56 inHg, the needle seemingly stuck there for the duration. The problem is that the entire East Coast is under the influence of a low pressure system; it's been there for a while and is forecast to hang around for a while yet. It is hard to see but there is a rainy section right over the tip of Cape Cod.

I have many failings as a human being; high on that list is patience, the lack of it. Boating has tried to train, encourage and foster patience, but that seed has fallen on barren ground. We waited for ten days in Bimini to head east; I think that we were almost three weeks in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL, waiting for the right weather to cross the Gulf Stream. There have been opportunities to travel; for some reason the effects of the system are less troublesome in Maine than they are here. The governing principle is that Carol says when we leave based on her assessment of Joan's situation. We will not leave Providence until Joan leaves the hospital and that is still a date uncertain. So, as Milton posited, "They also serve who only stand and wait."

Posted by sailziveli 08:36 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

Blog Hiatus

storm 72 °F

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The ferry itself is of no particular note. It's called the Fast Ferry to Boston, able to make the trip in about 90 minutes, twice as fast as the other ferry which does not call itself the "Slow Ferry," although it is. The Fast Ferry is a catamaran, twin hulls. What is notable about the ferry, at least as it appertains to the blog, is that it was carrying Carol to Boston, from which she would fly to Florida to be able to more directly and more easily manage the issues deriving from her sister's hospitalization.

We have no idea how long she will have to remain in Florida to deal with the process, hopefully a term measured in days rather than weeks, but there are no guarantees; this is a familiar script. The window for visiting Maine was always tight .... arrive around July 1st with no more than three weeks there. That window has closed irrevocably. We will not share any victory toasts to Remember (the) Maine!

So, Provincetown is the apogee of the trip. There might be opportunities to do some more things south of here before we head the boat "back to the barn;" there may not. It all depends on how things go in Tallahassee. More time there .... less time here. This is by way of saying that this may be the last blog entry for this trip.

Posted by sailziveli 11:02 Archived in USA Tagged boats boating Comments (0)

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