Tuesday, October 8, 2013


September 27

We had hoped, and told everyone, that we were leaving Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard right after Labor Day. We moved aboard the boat on June 8th, and before we knew it the whole summer had passed while we struggled to get the boat ready to sail. We'd get within inches and then we'd discover another problem which would put us yards away from the goal line. Like the manual bilge pump (last resort if the boat was taking on water and the batteries shorted out) needed to be replaced. And the generator, which was so cranky and loud that Angie hated it anyway, was going to cost so much to repair that it wasn't worth while to keep it (I should take note!) We (Ted and his crew, that is) yanked it out.
Ray, one of the crew
Gave us a lot more room for storing food and water. And the windlass, that we already told you about. Ted machined the faces on the brake, installed a new switch, and built new bow rollers for us, all of which should make anchoring a lot easier and safer.

But finally, on Wednesday, September 25, 2013, we took aboard all of our docklines, and with Ted and two other friends, Gord and Karen from Dancing in the Wind, giving a hand, we eased out of the slip for the last time.
Ted giving a hand off
The first leg of out journey was a short one, about 12 miles down the Bay to the Rhode River, where we are attending South Seas Cruising Association gam, a big social event built around a series of seminars on all aspects of the cruising life. Most of the sailors here are heading south like we are, either for the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands, and many of them have been doing that for 20 or more years, so we should learn a lot from them. It's a great sight in the evening to look out over the anchorage where about fifty other boats, mostly sail but a few trawlers, are anchored and see the anchor lights, like a constellation of planets, over the water. Anchoring, by the way, went off without a hitch, with Angie doing a great job bringing the boat to a halt at just the right moment and then backing down to set the anchor.

The Old Man at the helm
I must admit that I get a little nervous when I think about the trip ahead. We planned on the whole summer to get used to handling the boat cruising around the Chesapeake.
But we do get most of the month of October, a beautiful time for cruising the Chesapeake with the trees turning color and the ducks and geese on the flyway south, before we head down the Intracoastal Waterway. That journey, stretching over a thousand miles from Norfolk, Virginia, to whatever spot in Florida we choose for our hopping off place to the Bahamas, takes a couple of months. And though most of it is motoring down canals, and rivers, there are some bays where you can sail. And lots of practice anchoring along the way. There are also places where you can "go outside" for a day trip or overnighter on the ocean before coming back on the waterway. Doing that depends on finding safe inlets along with a safe "weather window" for the trip. I think I'd like to do that, but we'll see.

October 4

After the gam we went over to St. Michaels, a picturesque little fishing village and tourist destination on the Eastern Shore, for a couple of days. No wind so we had to motor all of the way. Well, I said we learned some anchoring techniques at the gam. We got lots of practice. First we decided to anchor in a little bight that called Dobbs Bay.
With Angie at the helm, we got the anchor set real well and had just got really relaxed when a guy came out on a big motor yacht and asked us to move because he was going to have to come too close to us when he went out later and then came back at night. So we pulled up and headed out to the main harbor, where we anchored just outside the channel. Again, got what I thought was a good set and settled down for the evening.
Tod, measuring mast height
The next evening, though, I decided to give the set a good test. We were interested in finding out how well the plow anchor was holding in the mud, so I started the engine, threw it into reverse, and revved it up. Well, there was a big jolt when the chain tightened, and the anchor came free. I waited a few minutes to let it settle down, tried it more gently again, and it seemed to be holding. I didn't want to pull it out again, and since there wasn't much wind predicted overnight I let it be. I wouldn't have done that, but I've got this great app on the iPad called DragQueen. DragQueen gives an alarm if your anchor drags and you move out of a radius that you have preset, so I set the alarm, and we went to bed. No problem, no wind. We'd swung 180 degrees but were still sitting pretty much where we started out. When we were ready to go and I raised the anchor  I discovered why it hadn't held before.  Our plow had snagged a Danforth anchor that someone had lost or abandoned. Good thing there hadn't been much wind, or we probably would have dragged again. Oh well, that would have been a good test of DragQueen.

October 7

Back in Back Creek, but this time at a mooring, not a slip at Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard. We came into the creek from across the Bay, after two nights at St. Michaels.  We were coming into Annapolis just before the big power boat and sail boat shows were about to begin.
Rob, with wood plaque he made for us
This is the biggest boating event on the East Coast, and Angie, at the helm as we came into the harbor, was nervous about threading her way through all of the boats anchored in the creek for the event. She was even more nervous about handling the boat as we picked up a mooring, something we'd never had a chance to practice with her at the helm. We'd tried this before with me steering, and it hadn't gone too well, partly because when I was calling loudly to Angie, on the bow, so that she could hear my directions, she thought I was yelling at her. So did the skipper of a nearby boat, who came out of his cabin and asked if he could be of any help. Really, I was just yelling so that she could hear me, not yelling AT her. So we decided that it would be better if she were at the helm. And we bought something called the marriage saver, a pair of hands free walkie talkie headsets. It required precision boat handling to stop the boat right at the big mooring ball, close enough for me reach down with a boat hook to grab the line attached to it and secure the boat. But with Angie's practice anchoring at Rhode River and St. Michaels and my much quieter participation, she carried it off perfectly.

We took advantage of being back in Annapolis for a couple of routine appointments to get the new
anchor that Angie has been wanting. Choosing an anchor is a religious act, and no one can agree on which one is the right one. But the one we chose, called the Manson Supreme, one of the "new generation" anchors, seemed at least one step up from our plow. Ted helped us swap it out, not a simple task while we are at a mooring, since the anchor, which weighs 45 pounds, had to be attached to the anchor chain out in front of the bow pulpit. Twenty eight years ago, it was Angie who bought us the 33 pound Bruce anchor, considered the latest, best thing, for Escapade.

Morning at St. Michaels

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