Sunday, November 24, 2013

Running in Muck

Wrightsville Beach, NC Sunday, 4 a.m. 

Did you ever have one of those dreams where you are running in deep muck, struggling to move your legs, not getting anywhere? It sometimes feels that way to us trying to get down the intracoastal waterway. I am sitting here at my typewriter (computer I meant to say--shows my age) listening to the gale force winds howl and trying to figure out when we can make our next move. We stayed three nights in a beautiful little anchorage called Campbell Creek, one day by choice, and the second because the fog was so thick that we couldn't see fifty yards ahead. This did give Angie a chance to get out her "real" camera and take some fog, pictures, something that we always enjoy. We spent four days in Beaufort, the first three waiting for the strong winds of another cold front to ease up. We probably could have traveled on the third day, but we were waiting for a package from my nephew Larry, who is handling business for us, and a replacement for the chimney of our trawler lantern, which broke because I let it heat up too fast. Finally last Thursday we pushed off the dock in Town Creek in time to catch the opening of the bridge we had to go through at the beginning of our day's run. It was a beautiful day, clear skies, warm compared to the weather we'd been having--a perfect day for moving down the waterway. We were feeling great. We even saw some dolphins swimming in the inlet where the ocean meets the Intracoastal Waterway at Moorehead City and that made us feel even better, as we consider them good omens. Then we approached the the first bridge we had to go UNDER.
Duck Hunters, Campbell Creek

If you've been following the blog, you might remember us saying that Bel Canto has a mast so tall that we have to duck to go under bridges. That was a joke, but the official height of our mast, or vertical draft as we sailors like to say, is 64 feet. All bridges along the ICW are supposed to have a clearance of 65 feet. That's 65 feet above the water level at the average high tide, which is something you have to think about when you are sailing in coastal regions. Well, in North Carolina they like to do things differently, and there are several bridges that only clear 64 feet. And a super high tide can bring that down to 63. There is a usually gauge on the bridge where you pass through that tells you what the actual water level is. If you get it wrong, you can rip all of the instruments off the top of your mast, or worse, bring the mast down. We worried about this, so while we were in Annapolis we had Todd, one of Ted's employees, go up the mast in a bosun's chair with a long tape measure. I could have done this myself, and 28 years ago on Escapade I enjoyed doing it. But somehow this far along in the eighth decade of my life, I am not so eager to view the world from that perspective.
Anyway, after taking careful measurements we calculated that our mast, including the instruments and radio antenna reached 63 feet and six inches above the water. Giving a six inch margin of error, that makes 64 feet, and we'd like to have another foot or so on top of that not to feel too nervous about it. Our first challenge was the notorious Wilkerson Bridge. Wilkerson Bridge is at the end of the 25 mile Alligator-Pungo Canal. There is no tide in the canal, but the water level does fluctuate when the wind drives water from the Pungo River up to into the canal. As we approached we kept looking at the water level on the cypress stumps and markers along the sides of the canal, trying to see if it was high or low. It was a calm day and the level seemed low, but that didn't keep us from being nervous as we approached the bridge.  We knew that if we couldn't make it under, we had a four hour trip back to where we could anchor. When we got to the bridge we saw that the gauge read 65. It's best for your heart if you don't look up when you go under, but Angie did anyway. It always seems that you are going to hit, even if the bridge is 165 feet high. When we made it through we high fived each other, and I gave a big holler to release the adrenalin I'd been building up.
Hauling Anchor, Campbell Creek

Well we weren't so lucky this time. As we approached the Atlantic Beach Bridge outside of Beaufort, Angie read the gauge and it read 63 feet. I wheeled the boat around, and while Angie steered I went below to check the tide tables. We were on a rising tide, a full moon rising tide at that, and by the time the water level would drop enough for us to go through it would be too late for us to reach our next anchorage. So back we went to Beaufort for another day. Now Beaufort is an interesting little town, but we didn't need to spend another day there. Especially not a beautiful day for enjoying the sights along the waterway.

Friday we were up at 5 a.m., getting the boat ready to leave as soon as it was light enough to see. This time we made it under the bridge at mid tide with a foot to spare. It was an interesting day traveling through bays and sounds where it looked like there was plenty of water, but most of it was only two or three feet deep. The waterway cuts a narrow path through this where you have to watch the marks very carefully to be sure you are not drifting out of the channel. By two o'clock we were anchored in Mile Hammock Bay, on the Marine reservation Camp LeJeune. This was after transiting the Camp LeJeune firing range which is closed every other hour for firing practice. When we came through here 28 years ago, we were caught by surprise, stopped by a guard boat full of marines and told we had to anchor there and wait until the waterway opened up again. The current was fierce, and when we anchored, we snagged something on the bottom. When it was time to go a couple of marines in a launch helped us retrieve the anchor, and we rewarded them with a couple of beers.

 There were about a dozen boats anchored in Mile Hammock Bay and we all got to be entertained by the planes and helicopters flying overhead. We all left about the same time yesterday morning timed around the first bridge we would reach which only opened once every hour. The rest of our day was spent trying to time several more bridges that either opened once every half hour or once an hour. If you reach the bridge too late you have to mark time in place until the next opening, which is not exactly easy to do when the current is trying to move you along at a couple of miles an hour. Fortunately we fell in with some boats whose GPS timed their arrival to the minute (if ours does that, I haven't figured out how) and we could adjust our pace to arrive at the bridge when it was just about to open.

So here we are at Wrightsville Beach. Gale force winds are predicted for the rest of the day all up and down the coast. It's a protected anchorage and our anchor is dug in well, so we are secure for the time being, even though Bel Canto is rocking and rolling in the waves and current. Tomorrow might be OK for traveling, even though ii is going to be 31 degrees when we wake up at 5 a.m. to get ready to go, and then we are expecting another couple of days of bad weather. We were hoping to reach Charleston by Thanksgiving, but at this rate we may be lucky to be there by Christmas. Are we having fun yet? The truth is that with all these stresses and worries, we appreciate every sunrise and sunset, every heron, pelican and dolphin sighted, every beautiful landscape we pass through, all our friends and family (that includes you, too, Ted), and especially each other, more than we can say.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Campbell Creek Anchorage

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Norfolk: Fair and Foul

Norfolk, from our anchorage

Tuesday, November 5

Because the wind had calmed down, I thought that going the short distance from Fort Monroe to Norfolk would be peaceful and quiet. Wrong! I was steering the boat as Jim washed down and secured the anchor when I saw this big tugboat heading toward me. I changed course to avoid him, and he pulled into a dock near the entrance to the harbor. Minutes later I looked back and there were TWO tugs on my tail. The first was lashed to the second. Then as I look ahead for the next marker, this gigantic cruise ship crosses the entrance to the harbor. I had a flashback to being in the East River in New York City with all of the  cargo ships, ferries and tugs and boats of all kinds.

As we got out into Hampton Roads we were in rolling waves. The tugs veered off and stopped following me and we made our way to Norfolk, passing the piers where the Navy aircraft carriers are docked. Twenty eight years ago, as we passed into Norfolk, one of these ships was leaving its dock and hailed us with their hailer: "Sailboat, get out of the way. This is the Navy." This time they stayed put, but we noticed something new. Every time we passed anything belonging to the Navy, a patrol boat would be running parallel to our course, between the Navy ship and us. I wanted to tell them that we were the good guys, not terrorists.

As we made our way into Norfolk, I decided that I had been at the helm long enough--I wanted to get out my "real" camera with the 70-300 mm lens that I had purchased for the trip. It's a heavy lens, but I was able to hand-hold it and take photos in between waves. This was the most fun I had had in three days.

The entrance to Norfolk is lined with Navy destroyers and aircraft carriers, cargo ships, ferries, all types of cranes, industrial tugs, cruise ships both power and sail, as well as pleasure boats. This is a real working harbor, as well as the one of the biggest naval bases in the world, so you have to watch out for all of this traffic. As we made our way in, the captain of a huge cargo carrier leaving its berth radioed us and asked us to cross to the green side of the channel. "Then there will be room for both of us," he said. This, of course, put us on the "wrong" side as far as the Navy was concerned and brought out the patrol boats.

Gigantic cranes for loading the cargo ships make colorful patterns against the sky.

Helicopters and bizarre aircraft fly overhead.

A schooner waits at anchor to enter the harbor, and later, the crew mans the tops'ls.

This photograph of a sailboat on the Elizabeth River at Norfolk reminded me of a Delacroix painting.

Tuesday, November 12

"The wind is blowin' harder now,  thirty knots or thereabouts.
White caps on the ocean, and I'm lookin' for waterspouts.
Squalls out on the Gulf Stream, big storms coming soon. . ."

                                       (by memory from) Jimmy Buffet

We are tied up to the pier at Coinjock (they sell tee shirts here that say "Where the hell is Coinjock?"), just fifty miles south of Norfolk. We had expected progress to be slow down the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway), but it has been SLOW. After holding up for two days at Old Point Comfort, Fort Monroe for the winds to slack off (see our last blog), we finally decided that they had calmed enough for us to go on to the anchorage off Portsmouth, across the river from Norfolk. But then another mean mother from the North came through.

We didn't mind spending a couple of days in Portsmouth. It has a picturesque old town section (quaintly called Olde Towne), very friendly to cruising sailors. When we stopped at the little marine hardware shop appropriately named Mile Marker 0, since this is where the ICW officially begins, and innocently asked the owner, Bob McBride, where we could buy some beer and wine, he offered to take us to the Food Lion, which, like all harbor town grocery stores is located over two miles from the harbor. (We had heard he would.) Not only did he take us but he offered to come and pick us up when we were done shopping and deliver us to our dinghy, all for a hug from Angie. Of course, we took advantage of this to carry back another fifteen bags or so of provisions.

Bob McBride, of Mile Marker 0
When we finally left Norfolk/Portsmouth we got a bit of bad news. When we radioed a bridge about seven miles from Mile Marker 0, the bridge tender asked us if we knew that The Great Bridge Lock, the one lock we have to pass through on the waterway, about 12 miles down, was closed. The lock had shut down because of a malfunctioning valve., and nobody knew how long it was going to take to evaluate the problem, form a repair plan, and carry it out. This was on a Tuesday.  On Wednesday we heard that it would "possibly" be open for a few hours each day, at low tide. The next low tide that would correspond with better weather and the opening of a bridge we had to go through on the way there was Saturday. A number of boats couldn't wait and left the anchorage to "go outside" around Cape Hatteras, a notorious graveyard for ships. Soon we began hearing the Maydays and calls to the Coast Guard. Five broke down, either dismasted or with broken rudders, and had to be rescued. We patted ourselves on the backs for our discretion. Saturday turned out to be a beautiful travel day, and soon after sunrise, we were on our way South.

But not soon enough. When we reached the bridge we found that it had just closed and that we would have to wait an hour for it to reopen. As a result we arrived at the Great Bridge Lock at about eleven o'clock, just in time to make the last opening until seven o'clock that night. As you can imagine, we were happy to make it through the lock, but we decided it was too late to go on to the next convenient stop, which was Coinjock. Not only were we beat, but we would be lucky to make it before dark. So, after passing through the Great Bridge Bridge (yes, that's the name) we tied up to the free dock at Great Bridge, a little way down the road. There we learned that Great Bridge is the site of the first Revolutionary War battle fought in Virginia and the first victory by the Colonial troops.

The weather was beautiful when we arrived in Coinjock on Sunday, sunny and about 60 degrees. And Monday looked to be as nice, but the forecast was ominous. On our next leg we have to cross Albemarle Sound, a fairly wide body of open water, and then anchor somewhere along the Alligator River. Pretty much all cyprus swamp wilderness with no marinas and no real harbors. And the weather forecast was for two days of gale force winds and temperatures dipping below freezing. We decided that discretion was the better side of valor. So here we are, tied up to the dock at the Midway Marina in Coinjock, sheltered from the howling wind and sleet (yes, sleet) outside and feeling Bel Canto straining against her mooring lines. The good news is that, since we are at a marina, we have shore power, which means we can have heat without using our diesel heater. And there is a friendly little restaurant here that, last night, opened up just for us. And after this front passes, the forecast is for four days of good weather, which should get us down to Oriental, North Carolina. Knock on wood!

Bel Canto on the public wall at Great Bridge

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Way We Were

Fishing Boats at Fort Monroe, VA

Sunday, November 3: "The Way We Were (and are now)"

This morning we are anchored behind Fort Monroe, at the junction of the Chesapeake and Hampton Roads, about 12 miles from Norfolk. Bel Canto lies between bright red shrimp boats at one end of the harbor and a large dredge in the middle. We have plenty of room to respond if DragQueen should signal us in the middle of the night that our anchor has busted loose (we are being buffeted by 15 to 25 mile an hour winds), but Jim assures me that Manny, our new Manson Supreme anchor, is well dug in. Twenty-eight years ago we were anchored almost in the same spot. We had just settled in to eat dinner when we felt Escapade bump into something. Our plow anchor had plowed a furrow across the anchorage, and we had bumped up against Deja Vu, a Nicholson 33, fortunately (for us) well anchored downwind of us. Fortunately too there was no damage to either boat, and surprisingly we formed a lasting friendship with Deja Vu's owners, Don and Muriel, who became our on again off again companions down the waterway and in the Bahamas. As a result of this and other episodes (like riding out tropical storm Kate in Charleston harbor) I bought myself a 33 pound Bruce anchor and a rigging knife for a wedding present. I still have both of those, along with the husband that I acquired in Florida.
Leaving the Chesapeake for Hampton Roads

It was cold in the cabin this morning, in the low fifties outside. The first thing Jim did when he got up was light the trawler lantern. In less than a half hour that had brought the temperature up a few degrees, and we could probably get by with that, but we go through oil and wicks quickly and they are hard to replace. So he set about lighting our diesel cabin heater. First he has to go out on deck to install the chimney and open the air intake vent. Next he preheats the heater by pouring in an ounce or so of alcohol and lighting it with a tiny rolled up piece of toilet paper soaked in alcohol. After that burns down, he turns on the new fuel pump and opens the valve to let in the diesel fuel. A lot of work, but soon it's a toasty 75 degrees in our cabin. I think back to a cold Labor Day weekend in Maine aboard Escapade. The best we could do then was heat a brick with our two burner kerosene stove and hope that some of the heat radiating in the cabin would take the chill off. I'll never forget the trip back to our boat from a visit to Portland on the complimentary water taxi with our friend Martha. I commented that I couldn't wait to get back to the boat to heat up the brick. The launch driver, in his Downeast drawl, gave a sly grin and asked, "All three of ya on the same brick?"

My project for the day is to bake an apple pie, something I do at least once a year for Jim because it's his favorite. On Escapade we learned to bake bread in a pressure cooker and I made some stove top, deep dish blueberry pies. Now I have a state of the art (well, it was state of the art 25 years ago) four burner propane stove with an oven. The oven temperature isn't calibrated, but who cares?

Yesterday, after running the engine on our trip down here from the Piankatank River (I love writing Piankatank), we had a good supply of hot water in the hot water tank. Not only hot, but pressurized. So one of the first things we did after getting settled in at the anchorage was to take a hot shower. Granted, this is a "navy shower--wet down, shut off the water, soap up, rinse off. But on Escapade the best we could do was share two and a half gallons of water from our sun shower, when there was enough sun to heat it up. Anyway, our total water supply was forty gallons, compared to 140 now, so on board showers would have been out of the question. As often as we could, we paid for showers ashore at the nearest marina. Or in the Bahamas, we just went swimming with a bottle of Lemon Joy.  My students used to be shocked when I told them that I went five months without a shower, but Lemon Joy does wonders.

had an ice box, and for a while we bought ice whenever we could to keep things cold. But eventually we just gave up with that and went without refrigeration. It worked out pretty well. Cabbage and carrots kept a long time in the bilge, and eggs did OK if they had never been refrigerated (better if they were unwashed eggs bought at a farmers market). We kept leftovers in the pressure cooker, and made sure we heated them real well before eating them. Warm beer, though, doesn't go so well. Bartenders in the Bahamas used to look at me strangely when I came in and asked for a COLD beer, since all of their beer was served cold. Bel Canto has a refrigerator AND a freezer. They are cooled by running the engine, and when not moving we don't like to run the engine long enough to keep things frozen. But it is nice to be able to come back from the grocery store with fifteen bags of groceries and know that the fresh stuff will keep for a while. And to have a cold beer!

Sailing seemed a lot simpler 28 years ago. For navigation, we had a compass, depth sounder, LORAN, and a radio direction finder. The last two worked only in some areas, and with them we could fix our position within a quarter mile or so. Not too great in the fog. We relied heavily on dead reckoning, which is carefully keeping track of the direction and distance traveled on paper charts, while correcting for drift, leeway and current. We had an autohelm that connected to our tiller that didn't work if the winds and waves were too great. Today we have GPS, a chart plotter at the helm, radar (which we haven't learned how to use yet), charts and weather info on the iPad, computer, and smart phone. Our auto pilot could navigate our whole course from start to destination if we wanted to set it up that way. It's complicated to learn how to use all of this sophisticated equipment, but we're slowly getting there. Of course, paper charts are still a must.

Where the Chesapeake meets the Atlantic
A lot of this technology requires access to the internet. Getting that to work has been hard, but we finally got it figured out, with a MiFi hotspot from Verizon, which is good as long as we are in the States. And speaking of the internet, 28 years ago our only link to the world at large was Jim's weekly talks with his brother Chuck via ham radio. We were blissfully ignorant of the news coming from the United States. Today we read the New York Times on the computer and the iPad, download books to read on our Kindles, correspond with friends and family by emails, cell phone, and, of course, our blog.

So I lie here in my warm bunk, feeling Bel Canto dance and sway in the wind, and I think, "Life is good."

View from Fogg Cove, St. Michaels, MD

Friday, November 1, 2013

Old Salt

Mill Creek, Solomons, MD

At first all we saw were the shoulders and a  head, covered with wisps of gray and black hair, protruding from the hatch of this interesting old boat. The boat had already caught our attention. A beamy wooden hulk, obviously designed as a work boat of some kind,  mastless, boomless and stayless, in what appeared to be the early stages of restoration or the late stages of deterioration. When Jim asked him if he was the man responsible for this restoration, he started, then turned, gave us a hearty greeting and invited us aboard. This was our introduction to Richard Griffiths, owner and skipper of  Rosalind.

Richard, an elfin man described in one article as five feet and a brick tall, had been a sailor for 55 years and captain of some huge sailing ships, including one owned by Charlton Heston. Born in England, he had fallen in love with sailing in his twenties. He was an art history teacher and a painter, but he quit because, as he says, the longer he taught the less he wanted to paint. He bought Rosalind, which had been used as a fishing boat, converted it into a sailing yacht, and with his partner of the time, set sail for Greece. The boat, a lugger built in 1910,  was one of 45 and is the only one left that is privately owned.

Richard sat in the corner of the small cabin of his boat, which he had built to his dimensions, and regaled us with stories of his long sailing career. Surrounded by books, and occasionally puffing on his pipe, he could be as easily taken for a college professor as a sailor. The cabin is a fabulous space, filled with an antique ship's wheel, brightly varnished table and benches which he described as older than the boat,  and an old blue velvet robe that looked like something from an Elizabethan play. On one end of the table sits an old, round keyed typewriter. Richard explained that he is not into modern technology. He once owned a laptop but threw it away after he unplugged it and then, when he restarted it, it said "Don't ever do that again!" Richard is not a person who accepts being ordered around. He recently underwent a two year bout with throat cancer, but he still drinks and smokes his pipe. What tipped the balance on the smoking, he said, was when the doctor said, "You MUST quit smoking!" That's who I am, he says. In the evening I sit in this corner of my cabin and smoke my pipe and get a bit tippley. I'm not going to change that for a few more years of life.

(For more about Richard click here.)

The village of Oxford was our last stop on the Eastern Shore before we headed south looking for warmer weather. A bustling tourist Mecca in the summertime, it had resumed its sleepy winter character by the time we arrived late in October. Nearly all of the eating places had closed for the season, and only a few shops were open on the weekend. We arrived on a Thursday and decided to lay over on Friday, because the weather forecast was for cold and rainy with adverse winds. Since we had little to do, Jim got the idea of asking at the marinas if there was anyone around familiar with our diesel cabin heater.
Our diesel heater

 Ted had installed a new fuel pump and fuel pressure regulator for it, but after the initial trial, it worked only fitfully and was difficult to light. We inquired at Oxford Boat Yard and were immediately  referred to Graham, a transplanted Englishman who appeared to rival Ted in the breadth of his knowledge about boats. We brought Bel Canto into a pier at the boatyard from our anchorage (the one where Jim had done his imitation of the cormorant). Graham quickly decided that he needed to disassemble the stove and take it into the shop to work on it. There he took it all apart to clean it. The inside was caked with years of carbon accumulation and the fuel feed line was clogged--it's no wonder that the stove wasn't working properly. Graham scraped and brushed and finally put it in the sand blaster until the inside was as clean and shiny as it had been when it was new. We took it back to the boat and reinstalled it, and soon it was 80 degrees in our cabin. This will be a great comfort on days like the last few when the temperature has been getting down to the forties at night.

We waited another day for a favorable wind, and then, on Sunday, we left the dock at the Oxford yard and headed out the Tred Avon and Choptank Rivers. As soon as we hit the open water of the Bay we raised our main and unfurled our genoa. With winds of between 10 an 15 knots on the beam, we raced along at about  six and seven knots. Raced, of course, is a relative term for Bel Canto, a type of boat known more for its seaworthiness and comfort of sailing than speed. By four o'clock we were anchored in Mill Creek at Solomons Island.

Every day hopping from anchorage to anchorage on our way down the Chesapeake, we experience something new. Almost at the same time we passed into Virginia waters, we began seeing pelicans. That has to be a good sign! And porpoises have been reported in these waters, but we haven't seen any yet. And we are slowly acquiring the skills that we had hoped to hone this summer at Annapolis.

On our way from Solomons Island to the Wicomico River we even raised our asymmetrical spinnaker and were able to sail with it for a while before the wind died and we had to resort to our "iron jenny."

Today we are tucked into Jackson Creek off Fishing Bay, Deltaville, Virginia, waiting for the winds, which are from the southwest and gusting to 25 knots, to calm down a bit and switch around to the north. We are in a very protected spot, but we can hear the wind whistling in the trees, and every once in a while a gust reaches down and rocks the boat. When that happens we are thankful to have the new anchor that Angie insisted getting.

So what do we do when we have a two day layover waiting for better weather--a couple of "days off" Angie calls it. Well, on day one, we decide it's time for an oil change, and we arrange to bring the boat to a boatyard dock, where a mechanic is on hand to change the oil and teach Jim how it is done.  Bringing the boat into a dock is always more nerve wracking than anchoring, especially when there is a cross wind blowing as there was yesterday. We make it in and out OK, (although Jim did manage to squeeze the dinghy between Bel Canto and a piling on the way out), but that whole process takes up a couple of hours. Next we have to take the boat to the fuel dock to empty our holding tank (where the water from our marine head goes when we flush). We decide that Angie should drive the boat to the dock this time while Jim handles the dock lines. She does a perfect job, but that whole process eats up another hour and a half.

The winds are starting to pick up, and where we were anchored is open to the direction they are coming from, so after leaving the fuel dock, we decide to head over to another anchorage, a mile or two away by water (though less than a quarter mile away by land). The channel is narrow and twisting, and in a couple of places our depth sounder shows about six and a half feet of water (we draw a shade over six), but we are soon safely anchored. By that time it is five o'clock, and we are ready for a beer.

But we have another whole day before the wind moderates and switches around to a favorable direction, so we have a real day off, just to relax and take it easy, right? Well we decide that this is a good time to have our zincs checked for corrosion. The zincs are attached to the propeller shaft and the keel to keep electrolysis, which is electrical current passing through salt water, from eating away the metal on our propeller shaft and through hulls. We contact Under Boats and arrange to have a diver come out and check them. The appointment is for noon, so this gives us a chance to have a real breakfast, in place of our customary sailing day breakfast of granola and yoghurt. Jim makes a Spanish tortilla, a kind of open face omelet with potatoes, onions and cheese.
Jim and Drew in the dinghy

After breakfast, Jim goes in the dinghy to pick up the diver at the dock belonging to the yacht club we are anchored near. Drew, the diver, goes under and inspects the zincs and reports that they are all still in good condition. Good news! Now, since we got an oil change yesterday, this is also a good time to replace the primary and secondary fuel filters. This is a job that Jim has done once before, and he's a little nervous about it and proceeds very slowly and cautiously.

We're done with all of this by about two o'clock, so we have the opportunity to do a little shopping, or reprovisioning, as we call it. We load our garbage, shopping bags, and a small pack with raincoats in it (a light rain is falling from time to time) and head for the dinghy dock at a nearby marina, where we pay five bucks to dock our dinghy and dump our garbage. Then we begin the two mile hike to the grocery store. (Grocery stores always seem to be two miles from anyplace that a cruising sailor can land a dinghy.) On the way we stop at a hardware store to buy oil for our lamp, because we get a three quart bottle of lamp oil for a little more that a quart costs us at the marine store. Then we stop at a conveniently located West Marine to buy a hand pump to pump the oil out of the crank case. This is so next time Jim can change the oil himself, since it cost us $150 to have a marine mechanic do it.

As we trudge on toward the grocery store, we pass a fish market so we have to stop and pick up some swordfish steaks for dinner. At every stop we ask how much farther it is to the grocery store, and this time Cathy, who makes clam chowder and sells it at the fish market, takes the hint and offers to give us a ride the rest of the way. Once there, we ask if they will deliver us and our groceries back to the marina. Linda, one of the managers, says she will do it, so in another hour we are loading our fifteen bags of groceries into our dinghy and ferrying them out to Bel Canto. Then we have to unload them onto the boat and find a home for all of the cans, packages, and fresh stuff. Oh yes, and the beer, too. So that is what a day off for the crew of Bel Canto is like. Anyone ready for a nap?

Liquid Energy #2