Sunday, October 8, 2017

Plans Change

Waking early and going up top to put together a cup of coffee, I take a look out the window and see the winds have indeed stopped blowing. The cool weather and the warm waters are working together to paint this image of a foggy morning inside Solomons Island Harbor.


During our last couple of days at Solomons, we put together a loose plan to run down to Deltaville then on to York River to hang for a couple of weeks. Eventually, we'd motor to Atlantic Yacht Basin where we'd officially put an end to the Bay and have a bit of work done before starting our return South.

With that idea in mind, we left and made way out to the Bay. It was another nice soft day and the forecasts predicted the weather to hold for a week.


We'd been running for a few hours when the radio crackled and a friendly Kiwi accent came through, it was Southern Star.
We asked about their time at Trawlerfest and they asked about our plans and told us they were about to turn and head up the Potomac to spend a few a days in Washington, D.C.; I could see on AIS they were just a few miles in front us.
I told them our intentions and said hopefully we'd all meet up somewhere soon, wished them safe travels, and signed off.



I guess it was somewhere around Point No Point Light when Mel and I started rethinking our plan... then at about the same time we both said, WTF. We'd actually thought about DC a few weeks ago, but scrapped the idea due to business in N Carolina. However, the Hilton Head project had been rescheduled, so.
Quickly looking over charts of The Potomac, we did some calculations, discussed things a bit, then decided to forego the current plan, (typical for us), and like Southern Star,  head to DC.

A right turn at The Potomac was made.

For the sake of the pups, we found a little marina that wasn't too far up the Potomac and made arrangements to stay for a night.

White Point Marina


This little marina reminds us of some of "off the beaten path" marinas we loved to visit while running the Tennessee River. I'd forgotten the restful sound of quiet.
As the sun set and the moon rose, not much was resonating other than a skein of geese honking in the distance, an occasional fish breaking the surface, and the ringing in my ears.


The next day we caught up to Southern Star and it was decided we'd both stop and anchor just up river from Quantico, VA. We set the anchor at a little state park where we dropped the dink and took the boys to shore for their biz. Leesylvania State Park.

Another nice night and another fat moon.


Rising early, we both pulled anchor and motored toward DC.

Mel and I have been cruising rivers for many years and, while we do find The Potomac to be a pretty river, we're just not too excited about it until we get closer to Washington. Then, we start to see things along the shore like the above pic.
George Washington's digs, Mount Vernon.


As we get closer, the Capitol building and the Washington Monument appear on the horizon. Now, we're interested.

So we finally pull into Washington Channel, tie up at Gangplank Marina, and wait for Southern Star to arrive. After much confusion we end up moving slips where we tied up next to Jenny and Ted.

Here's another story: Istaboa and brand new Bellingham Marine docks don't seem to get along. After tying up and attaching our power cord to the pedestal at Gangplank, we kill the electricity for whole dock. Needless to say we weren't very popular with the other boaters. A bit of a discussion ensues with the dockmaster about the source of the problem, ELCI type breakers, and their pros and cons. Eventually we're moved to the older section of the marina and just next to Southern Star; no problem there with power, all's well that ends well. This has happened to us before with these new Bellingham docks and their new highly sensitive breakers. It's our inverter that's at issue, however I do find it interesting that we don't have the same issue with new Technomarine docks we tie up to. I also find it interesting the Harbormasters at the marinas with these new Bellingham Marine docks are overly defensive when discussing them. (think Ft Pierce Municipal, Marathon Marina, Stock Island Marina)

There are a couple of fixes, though not cheap.
http://www.proboat.com/2016/11/finding-fault-lies-elci-tripping/

 /http://waggonerguide.com/new-shore-power/

But I digress ... We've had a nice time in DC but, Damn! It's hard work being a tourist here. Averaging about 6 miles a day of walking amongst the swarms of sightseers has taken a toll on this old guy.





All in all, Washington is an amazing city and we've seen things that we always wanted to see. Maybe next time we'll stay a month. DC's worth a long stay.


 Now we're on the move again. The weather's being weird so plans are in flux  — Surprised?

Adios,





Sunday, October 1, 2017

Deale, Maryland

Herrington Harbour North - Tracys Landing

Just a quick hop across the Bay, the run to Tracys Landing and Herrington Harbour North was an easy one. On our way, there was hardly a breath of wind, the Bay was flat and the sky was clear. We were in no hurry so we saved some fuel and took our time crossing ... a good day.
Being here on marina business, the staff gave us a nice T-Head slip with a clear view of the harbor's entrance. After tying up and shutting down we walked the boys and familiarized ourselves with this huge marina.
At first glance, Herrington Harbour North appeared to be a nice clean marina with old fixed docks and a boat yard; after spending some time there we soon realized the place is so much more than that.

This little clip was shot with my phone just off the back of the boat. Again, it was worth getting out of bed every morning to see this.






We really didn't do much other than what we came to do, nevertheless HHN is certainly nice place to knock around. We'd been to the South marina before but never made it over to the North side. Big Mistake.
Herrington Harbour North is a definite do over marina. The grounds and the facilities are beautiful.

This Cheney family owned marina has a quality and personality you won't find anywhere else on the Bay. They call it Central Maryland Charm; Mel and I tend to agree. Everyone's pleasant, the staff, the contractors, and management team are hospitable, and the boaters all seem genuinely happy to be here. During our stay, not a negative comment was heard about the marina or the whole facility.
The yard is immaculate and has the ability to lift boats up to 80 tons; the many onsite contractors and vendors can do about anything needed. I'd been told there were depth issues getting in, but we saw nothing less than 10' all the way to the docks.

The onsite restaurant is quite good and certainly convenient. A warm Sunday afternoon brought a pleasant walk to Dockside's for a dozen Blue Crab; they gave us 20 and they were some of the best we've had on the Bay.
Pickin' Crabs and watchin' football — Mel was in heaven.

Local favorites, The Brothers Osborne, recorded a video just across the creek from our slip at Skipper's Pier. Not being a big country fan, I'd never heard of these guys, but I've since been told they are more than just local favs.

Nice video —

Mix it with rum mmm mmm mm mm





So we stuck around for 4 days and really enjoyed ourselves while taking care of biz; we'll be back again and stay longer next time,  just for the fun of it.

On this Sunday morning, we're down the Bay at Solomons Island again. This place is really starting to feel familiar; the track lines on our charts have become thick with the frequent trips in and out.  The nice folks at Zahnizer's have come to know us as well and they always seem find us a good spot to tie up.
Terri, the dockmaster, was just over tying on a fender for us. She didn't think we were aboard and took it upon herself to protect us from the strong winds that were blowing Istaboa against a piling.
Like I said, nice folks.

Across the way, the Krogens are stacking up. There must be a rendezvous coming up.



Not sure where to next, I guess we'll see when the wind quits blowing — it's been blowing like hell for two days and the weather's starting to cool off.

It's October already... Fall has fell... The days are getting shorter... Time flies...

Adios,


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saint Michaels, Maryland

It must be Sunday morning...


Leaving Annapolis and heading for Saint Michaels, the weather was beautiful. It wasn't a sunny postcard day, instead; a muted, desaturated depiction of a day that made for a comfortable cruise and a few interesting photos. Mel and I have always enjoyed running from inside the boat on cloudy misty days; much the same way as our dead of winter boat trips on the Tennessee River, it's kinda like cruising through an old black and white movie.

On this day, the Bay was flat, the winds were light; sunless and foggy, but not uncomfortably so.

Relaxation was our only reason for visiting St Michaels and we certainly accomplished that.
No work on this stopover, just a good time visiting friends and exploring one of our favorite places.
Steve and Jane, long time friends from our days at Sunset Bay in Stuart, have created a beautiful home with views that pan the harbor entrance; so they saw us coming in to tie up. Their thoughtfully renovated house truly looks like a page torn from a Chesapeake Bay Magazine; not too big, just Eastern Shore cool. It was good to spend time with them again, they're awfully nice folks, as are most of the locals we met. We're finding friendly to be the norm up here in Maryland.
That night, we all sat for dinner at the marina's Crab and Steak House. The small town lifestyle of St Mikes was prevalent; everybody knew everybody and now, much thanks to Jane, they know us too.


Hanging out at St Mikes is like stepping back into time, everything is as it should be. The harbor has the appearance of a 19th century fishing village. Walking the dogs through the neighborhoods is like stepping back into the 50s until you pass one of the old churches, then you realize just how old the town really is.


After a couple of days, we moved over to the Harbour Inn Marina and it was good that we did.
The distant Hurricane Jose passed by and pushed the Bay waters up so high that St Michaels Marina was underwater. No danger but we couldn't have hopped off the boat without boots. (we have no stinking boots, we're from Florida)


Steve and Jane loaned us their car and we drove over to Oxford to check out Campbell's Boat Yard. Scott Kinney at DeMillo's Yacht Sales actually let us test drive a 41 Back Cove downeast style boat. An interesting boat that would make a good little Bay cruiser. Pretty too.




Dinner for our last night in town was at 208 Talbot. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was even casual enough for us in all our boatiness. (we've been out for 5 months and we're quite boaty) The restaurant's an old house on the main drag that's a local favorite and understandably so. The steaks were great, however the homemade ice cream?!

St Mikes is a always a good hang and we always leave here not wanting to. The Lindemanns showed us a really nice time and we'll always stop here when on the Bay.

As I write this... We're tied up in Deale, Maryland at Herrington Harbour North Marina — another new stop for us on the Chesapeake.

More about HHN later.

Adios,

ps: Happy Birthday, Jane!!




Sunday, September 17, 2017

Annapolis

The Hurricane is over, Florida is busy rebuilding itself and quickly coming back to life, our home in Jupiter has returned to 100%, and now, we're back to doing what it is we do.  Currently, that's walkabout Annapolis.

Here, The weather's perfect.

We've spent quite a bit of time in Annapolis and we always find it interesting. The Annapolitans are  friendly folk. They seem to go out of their way to be kind to strangers. They love their city, boats, good food, and they don't seem to mind sharing all those things. We're grateful, we love all those things as well.

Everywhere you look is a photo that needs to be taken and I've taken quite a few.
The photo to the left is Back Creek. We were tied up at Port Annapolis before moving closer to town and Annapolis Yacht Basin. The Yacht Basin's pricey but worth spending a few bucks for a couple of days in the middle of all things Annapolis





Speaking of Hurricanes, before I forget — this link is to Southeast Cruisers' Net's list of marinas that have been affected by Hurricane Irma. Pretty useful. http://cruisersnet.net/marina-conditions-and-updates/

A beautiful weekend with perfect weather brought out all kinds of vessels and their toys. The harbor was crazy busy.


So to better enjoy the day, we dropped the dink, loaded up the boys, and went out to join all those boaters doing the same.


Dinkabout Spa Creek



The end of another good day, the sun goes down.

This is truly a cool town, our kinda place. We always daydream about picking up stakes and moving here to enjoy the city and the convenient cruising lifestyle that living on The Chesapeake Bay allows. The weather is a disagreement, Mel likes the idea of seasons, I do too — if we could exclude winter.

We'll stick around another day to watch some football and probably do another dingy ride; tomorrow we're booked into St Micheals. Just a short ride over to the Eastern Shore, it's an altogether different experience. There are old friends at St Michaels and it'll be fun seeing them again, been a few years.

After a week of stress and worry brought about by Hurricane Irma, it's certainly relaxing to kick back and absorb Annapolis.

Unfortunately, we're forced to remain mindful of the new storms currently spinning out in the Atlantic. Right now there are 3 different disturbances that could become something to pay attention to.

As Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws, once said.

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...”

 

Adios,


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Irma's Gone


Day after day of staring at images like the one above, we had moved on, we'd resigned ourselves to and accepted the outcome of the overwhelming probabilities. Pretty much everything we owned in Jupiter, FL was about to be relentlessly swept away by this massive hurricane. Normally, we don't pay much attention to the weather-heads, but this time — just the size of the damn thing was undeniable.
We kept saying things to each other like, "it's just stuff", and "all that really matters is on the boat right now", nonetheless in our hearts and minds, we were controlling the sad thoughts that much of the business that we'd worked hard to build, our little bungalow by the beach, and our world in Jupiter was about to be blown away. Life was about to change.



Irma finally arrives.
Sitting on the boat, on the Chesapeake Bay, enjoying beautiful weather, it was unnerving seeing all this unfold on TV and the net, but as time went on, we started breathing a bit easier after seeing the storm leaving Cuba and pushing west. Now out of the "Cone of Uncertainty", though not out of the woods yet, it no longer looked like the end of the world as we know it.

Because we had access to the many surveillance cams onSpot has installed along the coasts, we were glued to our computers watching the increasing blow at the marinas that were in the path of Irma, .
Key West was the first to go dark, but before losing video I watched a large fellow, (wearing a child's life preserver?), standing in front of the Southernmost Point Buoy. He seemed to enjoy the massive breakers that violently smashed him head on - then hurled him backwards. He'd get knocked down and sweeped back to the street only to get up and do it over and over again. That's Key West.

North Palm Beach Marina lasted much longer, but eventually marina management was forced to cut power and it too went dark; the surge had pushed water over the fixed dock landings where the electrical power was located. Danger.
The Bluffs Marina stayed live till late but went offline after a large yacht broke a line and smashed into a power pedestal - completely knocking out power and water for the whole marina.
Then, other than the little Drop Cams, taped to the windows of our house, we were without eyes on the storm. A bit disconcerting, but...

As the storm moved North and the winds subsided, we starting feeling better about the house and the area in general. Though there wasn't much to see in the darkness, just knowing electricity and internet was still working gave us hope that everything was pretty good.

Then at 11:03, video died at the house, which means lost power.

Luckily, the next morning, other than no power or air conditioning, we discovered there was comparatively little damage, everyone's good, and all is okay other than a mess to clean up.

Thankfully, we seem to have dodged another bullet. There's still a life in Jupiter.
For us on Istaboa, if there's anything good that came outta the storm, it's the realization of what really matters most.
IT IS just stuff and all that really matters is on the boat right now.   (although there is a guitar at home I would have missed.) Realizing that everything in Jupiter was about to just go away had been fairly easy to accept; kinda liberating actually. We'd envisioned our old life as our new life — again.

Simple = (insert what you want here)

Our next door neighbor posted a video of Irma's blow on Instagram. Doesn't look too dangerous, but I bet the anticipation was killer.

A post shared by Glenda Green (@glendagreenart) on



Now, for the clean up.

I spoke with a couple of friends yesterday and both said they were amazed how quickly the area was being brought back to life. All agree that the South Florida's East Coast escaped disaster.

Old Port Cove Marina.
Mark Lavery told me that they are having electrical problems. The docks are okay, but so far power is not on. He hopes to have power back to the inner docks today.
North Palm Beach Marina.
Serious electrical issues. "It may be a while." was all Mark would say.
Ft Pierce City Marina
No power at this time.
The Harborage at Stuart
Fixed docks are seriously damaged. No power to the floating dock either.
Bahia Mar Marina
The marina is back up and running, per Megan Legasse, the GM
Soverel Harbour Marina.
The marina is okay, but no power for now.

miraculously, the marinas around the Tampa Bay and Sarasota areas are reporting little to no damage.

That's all we've got for now.

Will and Carl, are assessing the damages and onSpot has already started rebuilding. Yesterday they went to Ft Pierce City Marina then worked down to Stuart to bring back 3 marinas there.
Of that group, The fixed docks at The Harborage in Stuart was hit hardest. Pics below






The guys have plenty more work to do, but as they did after last year's Matthew, they'll have them all back as soon as it's safe to do so.

Key West? We've yet to see anything there. It may be a while.


All in all, the storm wasn't as bad for those in South Florida as we had feared.

This crew is happy with the decision to keep on going North after leaving the Bahamas. The Chesapeake Bay is very pleasant... so far.

However, no one is exempt from Hurricanes on the East Coast. We just hope our luck continues.

Adios











Sunday, September 10, 2017

Solomons Island and Irma

Yep, another beautiful Sunday morning after a somewhat sleepless night.

There's a loss for words when trying to describe the feeling while looking out the salon window. Out there, the reality is the beginning of another beautiful day in Solomons' tranquil little harbor. Meanwhile, at home, in Jupiter, our house is being pounded and our friends, who have stayed put, are confronting Hurricane Irma that's bearing down on South Florida. (See live video of the effects of Irma here: NPBM)

Below, in the video that's streaming from a front window at Spearfish, as I write this, not much is happening. It looks just like last year's Hurricane Mathew that passed by without doing much damage.


Hope it stays that way.

Guilt is certainly not the descriptor that comes to mind, though anxiety is definitely in the mix. Conflicted doesn't seem to fit either.
Is there a word that combines fortunate and grateful? If so, that's it.

And then I turn and look out the salon window again —


Yes, anxious, fortunate, and grateful all apply. — God willing, we can add "Lucky" later.

Our thoughts are with everyone in the path of Irma. For those who stayed in Florida, please be safe. For those of us away, who have property in Florida — it's just stuff.

Adios,





Thursday, September 7, 2017

Live Video -S Florida- North Palm Beach/Jupiter/Key west


onSpot wifi Live Video Feed:
North Palm Beach Marina -Power or internet is down for now
The Bluffs Marina - Jupiter, FL
Key West - Power or internet is down for now
online — as long as possible.

 


The Bluffs Marina - Jupiter, FL

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Bay



It's another one of those peaceful Sunday mornings (My favorite way to start a day) quiet, overcast, the view from the salon window is like an old photograph, and so far, other than a few geese, there's not a soul stirring around the harbor.
We're now tied up at Solomons Island, MD - Spring Cove Marina where we're spending a soggy Labor Day Weekend. Though the sun may make an appearance today, it's probably too little too late; a disappointment for those deserving a sunny respite from work. Especially for the marina operators; all prepped to handle the large crowd of boaters who for the most part have canceled reservations.

So far, we're enjoying the bay, we always do. I like motoring to all our favorite towns and marinas while mostly running in deep-ish water — comfortable cruising — unlike the attention demanding shallow windings of the ICW or the long runs offshore with only the occasional ship or pod of dolphin to break the monotony. Mel likes the local restaurants serving good Blue Crab and local fish...  and the little shops. We both enjoy bumping into old acquaintances and making new ones, this seems to happen a lot on the Chesapeake.


Lady M, Marty and Amy, we've known them for years.  Now 88, Marty and his girlfriend Amy have been running up and down the east coast longer than most of us have been able to spell BOAT. Marty is a wealth of knowledge and experience, he's our personal cruising guide. If we have doubts about an inlet or a marina, we call Marty. Been there done that, many times. Yes, we can get that same info from a publication or online, but Marty usually shares an amusing anecdote to augment his bits of wisdom. We always enjoy their company and we did for the few days at Atlantic Yacht Basin while repairing our lightning damage. (Which, by the way, seems all good)







Leaving AYB and heading out into the Chesapeake, we found the Bay to be a bit sloppy, but soon the tide changed direction and all settled down.

Around Thimble Shoals Light, we made way toward the York River, Gloucester Point, VA and York River Yacht Haven. We've done this many times so with the comfort of following former track lines, we effortlessly skirted the shoal and eased into the marina.



We were surprised to see Southern Star on the same T-head. Istaboa was briefly tied next to N-47 Southern Star while at Old Port Cove. Later we got together with Ted and Jenny and we've enjoyed their company several times since.
Nice folks.





YRYH gave us a great tie, out on a T-head with a killer view from our stern. Waking early every morning and having my coffee with the sun rising above Sarah Creek was always a pleasure and certainly worth the effort of getting out of bed.













While at YRYH we endured a tropical disturbance that could have been much worse. With wind constantly blowing hard, gusts to 40mph, and hard rain all day, we discovered a couple of good leaks. Nothing that we couldn't quickly stop, although they did require some creativity to overcome. Wind and rain found the tiny breaches, duct tape and a plastic bag stemmed the leaks. A proper fix was done the following dry day.




 The next morning brought an end to bad weather and we started that day with sunny skies and pleasant temps. It's been a long time since we've experienced mid 70º temps, we're actually wearing pants. Nice.

So after a few days of weather, both good and bad, we untied and pulled out of York River.

We like YRYH; they've made many changes for the better and as we did a few years ago, we booked our slip there on a monthly. We'll be returning from time to time, making this our base on the Bay. It's a nicely tucked away marina that will make for a decent hiding hole in a blow. (we hope)


Our 90 mile run from YRYH to Solomons was nice and smooth. On the way up we passed through the fleet of commercial fishing boats from Reedville. We presume the Menhaden must be schooling.



Now and for good reason, everyone's attention is on Hurricane Irma. Our intentions are to hang here for a few more days and take care of some biz. Then move on to Herrington Harbour and Annapolis, if we don't have to head back to York River to hide out.
We'd like to visit old friends over at St Micheal's and stop at a few more little port towns along the Eastern Shore before heading back — we'll see.

Damn, it seems every hurricane update brings even worse news for everyone on the East Coast. It's still early in development so no reason to start battening down the hatches yet - - time will tell.

Fake News? Don't bet on that.

Just crossing fingers for now.


Adios,







Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Laying Up - AYB

Sunrise - Atlantic Yacht Basin


Yes, we finally escaped the current at Morehead City Yacht Basin and made a short day's run to River Dunes Marina in Oriental, NC — though not without incident. A storm followed us almost all the way and finally caught up just before we pulled into River Dunes. Running from inside a protected pilot house heavy rain is never a problem, however lightning is a different story. Waiting out the blinding rain storm before easing into the skinny little creek that leads to the marina, thunder and lightning soon became the issues to deal with.

In all the years and all the miles of doing this, we've never had any problems with lightning; been in plenty of storms, but suffered nothing worse than the anxiety it brings.
Then - a loud bang, a flash, and we realized we'd been hit or almost anyway.

Sonar, chartplotter, and radar screens blinked then rebooted, I turned to head back out to the Neuse River and deeper water, then started working to bring back some electronics. Luckily, we've redundant nav systems on-board and our computer driven system was not affected. Charts and AIS were still running, but we had no depth info.

After a few minutes I had depth coming from sonar, but oddly enough no sonar screen - just the numbers. That was enough to get into the marina so we turned back to the entry point and headed in.
Things could have definitely been worse and we've heard many stories that were. We slowly motored into River Dunes basin and saw a beautiful marina where Rich, the harbormaster, stood waving at us from our dock.
The rain had stopped and the storm moved on. The rest of the night was quiet as I went about going through all the affected systems.

With all the redundancies aboard I was able to put together a working nav system and we pulled out the next morning, heading for Belhaven, NC and River Forest Marina.





Belhaven's another cool little town. The docks at River Forest are old, but the electricity is stable and the depths are good. The dockmaster's name is Henry Boyd III. He and a group of Belhaven citizens bought the marina out of bankruptcy. They're slowly rebuilding the docks, but the lovely old southern manor next door has already been brought back to mint condition. Henry and his crew are very proud of the project and love to talk about it. They also loaned us a golf cart and directions to town for dinner. Spoon River Art Works and Market is a fine restaurant. The local Black Drum was killer. The place was crowded.

That evening we went through another storm, but other than rolling us around for a few minutes there were no problems. We ended the day with a peaceful sunset



The next morning we made way to Coinjock, NC to spend the night. Coinjock is Coinjock. No, we didn't get the steak, but the soft shell craps were very good.

Then, AYB. We always stop here and throw a bit of money at James Taylor's crew. They do good work and this time we may need to take advantage of that.



All in all, as far as storm damage goes, we did okay.
Our main GPS was acting up, but after a reset it came back for the most part. It now shows us running at .05 knots while at the dock, but it's position seems to be okay. We have several ways to get GPS info so that doesn't stop the show.
One of our depth sounder transducers is dead.
Both Raymarine displays are blinky.
Ironically, the Sirius Weather Receiver was fried and has yet to return.
By far the most expensive damage is the KVH Satellite TV dish. It's toast.

I called our insurance company, and inquired about making a claim. They've since sent out a surveyor who thinks the damages are worse than I do. He explained how lightning causes crazy intermittent problems that usually show up at critical times. He's probably correct.


So, here we are, laying up at AYB, waiting to hear back from several folks.

There's good friends tied up just behind us and it has been nice catching up with them.
We've always liked it here. Always little projects to do and AYB has the essential supplies to get them done. The boats that come out of the lock can be interesting to see and the camaraderie amongst the boaters is always enjoyable




We're thinking The Chesapeake Bay will be our next leg, but news of Sea Nettles (Jelly Fish) may change that. The Bay full of Nettles is not uncommon this time of year. They clog sea strainers and stop air conditioning; not good in 90º heat .

And, as they so often are, our plans are still peculating.

Life's good ~

Cheers,