Sunday, October 31, 2004

Annapolis – Norfolk, Virginia October 2004

Oct.15/04 We are anchored off the east side of the Chesepeake, up the Chester River in a quiet anchorage, after touring Chestertown during the day. It is surprising how rural this area is, farms and a few mega estates are along the waterfront. There are few marinas, and because it is so late in the season, very few boats. We are still travelling with Ron & Larry, both on their own boats, and we have Kathy & Pete (from Hillsdale) visiting us on RAFT.

It has been very cool, especially at night and in the morning. Today it is raining. But we are very comfortable, since the water outside the boat is still warm, and the canvas enclosure keeps the cockpit area dry and cuts down the wind. When the sun shines, the enclosure heats the cockpit up like a sunroom.

We anchored in Back Creek to explore Annapolis. Annapolis is an amazing place, especially if you are a sailor. Everywhere you look are masts, one local sailor described it as an aluminum forest (masts are aluminum). It also seems so strange to pull into a small creek basin, one lined with docks and marinas on both sides, and we just drop our anchor in the middle, along with about another 30-40 boats. The big boat show just ended on Sunday. This boat show runs for 2 weeks, the first week being sail (which we missed) the second week is mainly power boats. We understand the week of the sail show, this anchorage was wall to wall sailboats, and it is "quite empty" now. Sailors being very frugal -- prefer to anchor for free than pay big dollars to tie to a dock.

There is plenty to see and do in Annapolis. The Franklins are still with us. Ross & Pete, have really enjoyed all the marine stores, and boat wreckers in the area, while Kathy and Bev have caught up on some reading, and walking.

Oct. 22, 2004 We are leaving Annapolis, crossing the Chesepeake, enjoying a nice sail up the Wye River. Our Canadian convey has increased to 4 boats, as we have been joined by Ragtime, a CS30, Ted & Gail are out of Waterloo. Ted has sailed extensively on Lake Erie, and Gail is an eager novice. We saw them at Oswego, they were about a day ahead of us, then in Annapolis and for now they are travelling with us, Ron & Larry.
The next day we explored Hudson Creek. Then crossed the Chesepeake to the west side to go to the Solomon’s.

We are at Solomon's Island, 40 miles south of Annapolis, slowly working our way to Norfolk. Today, we is a maintenance day. Ross is changing the oil, and transmission fluid (no problems, just routine as we are putting a lot of miles/hours on the motor. Someone needed to go up the mast to shorten the lazy jack lines. We had installed them when the mast was down on the Hudson. Bev had never been up the mast , and since it was a perfect day, no wind or waves, and an easy job, just tie a couple of knots, and she didn’t have to go all the way to up, she wanted to give it a try. The view from the top was fantastic. After that, its off for a hike to find a propane refilling station. There is one, not to far from the anchorage, but unfortunately when we got there, the only person trained to fill tanks was out driving a bus, could we come back tomorrow? Don’t think so. Fortunately for the cooks in our group, Monday night is $4.99 pizza at the local shop, so after the $1 beer at the western bar, we pigged out on pizza. Life is good.

Bev -- her first trip up the mast

Solomon's is another large marina area, with a huge number of sail and power/fishing boats. There is a Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn right on the basin, plus a small plaza with a West Marine just a block away. We are anchored right in the main basin (something we are becoming more comfortable doing), about 1/2 mile from the entrance to the creek.

The next day we had a wonderful sail, and found a very pretty anchorage, up the West Yeocomo River, near Kinsale (38 01.71N 76 33.85W) There are no services here, just a small yacht club (with a restaurant) and very friendly people. The owners of the home in Long Cove, where we were anchored, even asked us if we wanted to use their dock!
Square rigger sailing down the Potomic as Le Voile au Vent sails by

Beautiful fall day near Kinsale

The following day we motorsailed out the Potomic to Antipoison Creek, another pretty anchorage. The fall colours are really spectacular and we were also treated to a full lunar eclipse. Leaving the next morning we saw deer swimming in the creek. We overnighted in Chisholm Creek and then we were off to Norfolk.

We have had a wonderful 3 week cruise on the Chesapeake Bay. Cruising here is very different than Georgian Bay. You always have to consider tides and currents and salt water, although not difficult, but at times the tide current can run over 2 knots, and it always seems to run against you. You are supposed to plan your trip to use the current to your advantage, but when you only have about 10 hours of daylight, leaving at 8am and arriving in the planned anchorage in the early afternoon takes priority.

When you cruise this area, you are always going in and out of the rivers which flow into the Bay. The rivers have wide mouths, and many creeks and usually you end up motoring up one of these creeks to find a quiet cove to anchor in. These spots are very pretty, but populated. Once we anchored, we usually dinghyed to the local village, or just tootled around the area. The trees are in full colour. The next morning, we would have to retrace our steps, 5 - 10 miles back into the main Bay, and motor sail for a few hours, then find another river/creek to go up and find another anchoring place. This is why it took us a week to travel from Annapolis to Norfolk, which is only 150 miles. The entire Chesapeake Bay is 206 miles long.

Friday, October 15, 2004

New York City – Annapolis October, 2004

Oct. 6/04 We had our first saltwater sail yesterday, even used the sails. We backtracked about 2 miles to go to a marina to fill with diesel and water, then unfurled the foresail, and sailed by the statue of Liberty, dodging all the ferries, commercial boats and barges, and were closely scrutinized by the US Coast Guard (they wrote down our boat name as they came up beside us, but did not board or ask any questions) It still was intimidating as they roared up beside us with machine guns on the front and back of their orange inflatable boat. Then we sailed under the Verrazano Narrows bridge, and we were off to Great Kills Harbour on Statan Island. It is getting cold here, and ourselves and our travelling companions (Ron Marshall & Larry Webb -- each on their own boat) want to start making our way south to the Cheseapeake. Armand has decided departed our group.

The Verrazano and Tappan Zee Bridge are beautiful at night, both are suspension bridges, and their sweeping arcs are lit up with green lights, and the tops are red, really pretty against the cityscape.

Oct 7/04 We did it!! The jump from New York to Cape May, really needs to be done as an overnight passage, and we were a little apprehensive about this one, after all it is the Atlantic Ocean, and everything is new to us. From all our research, everyone else does it, and we never heard about any major issues, but until you do it yourself...
This passage is one of the longest we will have to do, even longer than going to the Bahamas. We checked the weather, it looked favourable, high pressure system, light west winds, starry night and 1/4 moon. We left Great Kills Harbour about 1100 am yesterday. Larry Webb (on Inkshuk) taking the lead. Larry has made this passage and many like this in the past 4 years he has been sailing between Nova Scotia and Belize. He sails by himself. Ron Marshall on La Voile au Vent was even more concerned than us, since he had never done an overnight on his boat, and he was alone. We at least had 4 overnight passages under our belt, and had the benefit of having 2 people on our boat.

The winds of course, didn't cooperate at first, 10-15 knots on the nose, but then settled into 10-15 from the SW, so we were able to sail and motor sail the majority of the time. The stars were beautiful, the New Jersey coastline, especially Atlantic City was well lit up, there were a few tugs & barges to manoever around, but with 3 boats, and 2 sets of radar, we always had lots of notice.
We arrived in Cape May Harbour about 1 pm in the afternoon. We each had a couple of hours of sleep during the passage, so aren't in that bad a shape. Ross has gone off in search of some sparkplugs for the dinghy motor, so he can give it a tune up.

We will probably stay here another day, to give Ron and Larry time to catch up on their sleep and do some shopping, and leave on low tide Saturday morning to head up the Delaware. We want to go under our first "low" bridge at low tide. So far all the bridges we have been under have been over 100 ft of clearance, but from now on, 55-65' is the norm, and Ross measured our mast height from the water to be about 52' so would like the benefit of the tide.

Larry, knows this area like the back of his hand, so we are letting him be tour guide. He knows where all the anchorages are, the shopping areas, etc. Its great for us, not having to do all the research and check things out, or miss things we would like to enjoy.

Oct 10/04 Today was an exciting day for us. we left Cape May through the Cape May Canal to the Delaware. We were late in leaving, waiting for low tide to go under two 55 foot bridges. We measured the mast height 3 times in the past two weeks to insure that we could pass under it. We knew we had 3 feet to spare but could not handle any wake or roll from power boats. Everything went fine.

Checking out the bridge clearance board (Cape May)

Can we clear??

We traveled 30 miles up the Delaware to the Cohansey River. Anchoring here, is different because the tides cause the water flow to reverse between high and low tide. Tide heights here are the greatest we have experienced (5-7 feet here) and the tidal current is strong. Tomorrow we will proceed through the C&D canal into the Chesapeake. One of the amazing things is how shallow the water is on the Jersey coast and in the Delaware. The Great Lakes are deeper. Everything seems to going as planned now. The people we are traveling with are great and we are having a good time. Next week our friends from Mount St Louis are driving to Annapolis to spent a week with us on the boat.. Weather here is around 20-23 degrees C. We plan to be in the Chesapeake until Nov 1. Now we can begin to slow down.

We had had a great sail from the Boehemia River to the Sassafras, and then a very interesting trip up the river, weaving around the many marinas, under a lift bridge, and there just off the to the side, we anchored. Larry had spent some time there a couple of years ago and knew exactly where we could anchor so we blindly played FTB –follow that boat. Then Ross & I walked to the next little town (about 1.5 miles) and filled our backpacks with groceries, from a store which was just a little better than a village general store -- but it had the basics, including the frozen burritos. So far provisioning has not been difficult, especially getting the basics, including fresh meat, but fruits and vegetables are surprising more difficult to find. When we were going through the locks, we saw a farmer's fruit stand on the highway beside the lock, stopped, and were able to buy great local produce. Wish we could find that more often.

Canadian Thanksgiving and although we did not have turkey, or any fixings, instead we spent Thanksgiving evening with Ron Marshall and Larry Webb in Georgetown, Maryland, celebrating Ron’s birthday, with burritos & chocolate bars.

Today we left Ron & Larry, and sailed by ourselves to Annapolis, where we are meeting Kathy & Pete Franklin. We expect Pete & Kathy will be with us for about 10 days, as we cruise the Chesepeake together. Ron & Larry are not far away, and we will meet up with them in a couple of days. Even today we missed Larry's incredible local knowledge. We followed our electronic charts up the Mill & Rideout Creeks and they were just too populated, so then went to Whitehall Bay, and we were able to find a private place to anchor.

We are meeting Kathy & Pete at the same marina Ross & Bev had spent Bev's birthday in 2002 when we visited Annapolis on one of our many boat hunting trips. It is just across the Bay Bridge, on the east side of the bay. That's how we knew where to tell them to meet us. Hope it works out okay for them.

We are surprised how tired we are at the end of everyday. This cruising/retirement/holiday lifestyle is a busy one. Everyday we have some boat chores, although lately nothing major has caused Ross any grief (touch wood), and housekeeping jobs, whether that is shopping, laundry, refilling diesel or water jugs. Then you have to decide where you are going to, how the tides/currents/weather will affect your travel, and where you are going to end up. We try and be up and moving by 8am, and settled where we want to be by 4pm. or earlier if you need to do anything off the boat. I have started not to worry about supper until closer to dark, and then right after that it is bed. We haven't missed TV, or sports at all, although do miss some Canadian news. We are trying to get CBC on the short wave with some success.

We plan to Cruise the Chesepeake until the end of October, ensuring all the hurricanes are finished, be in Norfolk for the first of November, to start the race down the ICW. We hope the weather doesn't get too cold, but is was cold here this morning, in low 40's F and we put on our toques and mitts.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Erie Canal – New York City Sept/Oct 2004

SEP-25-04 Ross continues to routinely check motor, mast & transmission -- everything seems okay, but Ross concerned about one transmission bolt leaking. We had a great day travelling through the locks, Lockmaster at #2 gave us a flower; we shopped at a great vegetable stall at Phoenix, and overnighted in Brewertown, just west of Lake Oneida. The next day we motored across Lake Oneida, arriving at Lock 19. Here we were met by a welcoming committee of locals, who wanted to help us, if we needed anything. We stopped in Little Falls, and took a quick tour of the town, shopped at a great grocery store, and then moved on to lock 12. Getting off early in the rain, we raced through the last locks into Waterford. The docks were full, but we easily found a boat to raft to.

SEP-29-04 Waterford is a great stop; first 2 nights are free, after that $10/night, showers, electricity, internet access, and pump outs for $1 – plus great volunteers to help you. We walked over to Price Chopper in Troy to shop, in the bakery next door we met up with 2 volunteer ladies, who offered to give us a ride back to RAFT. When we asked about buying wine, they drove us to the wine store before taking us back to RAFT. Later we walked to Nappa store, explored the old canals, and just enjoyed a day off RAFT.

Old Canal Locks in Waterford NY

The next morning we had to wait for pumpout machine to be unplugged before we set off for Castleton. It would have been easy to stay longer, Waterford is such a nice place to stop, but want to get the mast back up and move south before it gets cold. We arrived in Castleton just ahead of the huge rain storm and 3 Quebec boats. Since it was too late to get started on mast, we decided to wait until tomorrow. Besides there is fun bar at Castleton. With the help of Madrigal (niagara 31 solo sailor) and Quebec boats we got RAFT remasted, it is great to be a sailboat again. We left our wooden supports, id’ed and with a return date, behind the marina building with all the others. Anxious to get on our way we motored down the Hudson River with Madrigal, and anchored west of Coxsackie Island in 17 ft water at hi tide. This was to be our time anchoring in a tidal river, and we didn’t have any difficulty.

We continued on to Marboro where we took a mooring ball – another first. Bev went forward, picked up antennae, and entire ball came with it, there was no line, or bridle on ball -- put our own on, Ross had to come and assist, but we did it.

Continuing on south, we motored by West Point to NYAC and anchored north of TappenZee bridge. We couldn't pass bridge because our boat insurance didn't start until Oct. 4th. We had been trying to find out about mooring balls on the radio, and Ron Marshall (LE VOILE AU VENT) from Barrie heard us, and tried to raise us the VHF -- he is still in NY. Although we couldn’t talk to him, it was good to know he was still in the area. We were surprised that we had caught up to him, with all our delays, we expected him to be long gone. The next day, as we got closer to New York City we were able to talk to Ron, and met him at the Statue of Liberty anchorage. New York harbour was very busy, and it was difficult to keep away from all the ferries, tugs, barges, military, etc. It was a wonderful feeling to sail past the statue, and then weave our way into the anchorage.

Sailing by the Great Lady

LeVoile au Vent (left)  Inukshuk (right) anchored behind the Statue of Liberty

Another surprise was that as we came into the anchorage behind the Statue of Liberty, the only boat there was Ron’s. Since New York is such a big city with only a few places to anchor, we expected to be sharing the anchorage with many others. Guess everyone else is ahead of us! Ron was really happy to see us since his brother had left last Friday, and Larry, his next traveling companion, had been held up with engine problems. Larry didn't arrive until today either. We arrived with Armand, another solo sailor, who had been sailing with us since Castleton (where we put up out mast). So we are now a group of 4 Canadian boats heading south -- 3 of which are solo sailors, and we expect we will sail together until we get to the Chesepeake.

We plan to leave here tomorrow for another anchorage, closer to the mouth of the Hudson and the Atlantic Ocean and wait for a good weather window to make the 100 mile sail down to Cape May, New Jersey. Right now, it looks like Wed/Thurs. will work. This will be our first salt water sail.. and it is nice to have company for it.

This means that we are in New York, but never stepped on shore, except at the marina where we got diesel. We would have liked to spend a few days exploring New York, since Bev had never been here before….but we also wanted to take advantage of Larry’s expertise and the opportunity to travel in a group. After all we can do New York another time….