Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sailing for fun?

Thursday afternoon I was called by the marina to let me know that I'd left my boat in a slip that belonged to a year lease holder and would need to move it by next Wednesday, fortunately I was already in the area for work so I just extended my trip a day to take care of it.

On the upside a couple of the Sea Scout families from Ship 747 were available for a sail so we went out for an evening sail Friday night. The weather was great, light winds and comfortable evening temperatures. The sun was setting as we left the marina and we were treated to an incredibly beautiful sunset. We were able to put the sails up and ghost silently along at about 4 knots. The trip lasted about 3 hours and several times we were visited by dolphins crossing our path or shadowing us. There were some clouds but many stars were visible.

I was also able to cross a couple of things off of my to-do list, the outlet in the forward head is now GFI and I fixed the reversed hot in the system wiring for the boat. I also cleaned up an annoying leak in the freshwater  pump hose fitting.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Parade of boats photo

Photo taken during the Parade of Boats as we passed the reviewing ship off Ft. McHenry.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


The next morning we departed Calvert Marina, they were efficient and had left an envelope with maps and a Wifi code for me so we were able to do a quick weather and email check before heading out. We topped off at the fuel dock at 0905, we were the second boat in line when they opened. There were a number of boats headed South as well and we spent the morning following the Mystic Star until they turned off to the West, while we proceeded South towards Norfolk.

By this point we were getting proficient at staying out of shallow water and we spent most of the day in the middle of the bay, away from both shallow water and commercial traffic. We did pass several barges, headed North. Early on I mistook one for a lighthouse - telling Zach to use it as a course reference point; it became a standing joke to point out my "lighthouse" every time a barge passed us.

In the mid afternoon a front passed by and we had light rain for about an hour. Throughout the day Zach and I took turns at the helm. There was some ominous clouds to the West and occasional lightning flashes, but they stayed away and we enjoyed good weather for the rest of the afternoon. As sunset approached we got a call from Zach's mom warning of storms in the Hampton Roads area. We considered our options and decided that most likely they would be past Norfolk by the time we arrived at 2230 that evening. I took some time to straighten the anchor locker, laying out the lines on the deck for inspection and then re-stowing them in case it was too rough or windy to safely dock the boat and we were forced to anchor. I also rigged the radar reflector as we would be crossing several shipping channels and were unsure what the visibility would be.

An hour or so after sunset (2030) we started to feel the effects of the storm, the wind shifted out of the West and started to build. Our instruments reported winds of 26 kts and the waves were about 4 feet on our beam and it was raining fairly hard. I was considering taking down the bimini top and then the wind speed started to drop. By the time we made the Norfolk channel markers it was blowing a gentle 10 knots with a little drizzle. Zach was at the helm through most of the bad weather and did a great job keeping a steady course.

We pulled into a slip in the Little Creek Marina at about 2230 and with the help of one of our new neighbor we were quickly tied up at a T-head. We linked up with Susan Nelson and then went to town for a quick dinner.The next morning, Angie in the office (also a former Sea Scout) went out of her way to make sure we were well taken care of.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Solomon's Maryland and beyond

Over the Labor Day weekend we completed our most ambitious leg so far. Friday after work, one of my co-workers, David Hansen, was kind enough to drop me off at the boat before heading to the airport to fly home. Elizabeth drove up to Norfolk, VA where she connected with the Nelson family who we met through Sea Scouts. Zach is the boatswain for ship 747 and had agreed to join us for this leg of the trip. Zach's mom, Susan shuttled Elizabeth and Zach up to Galesville where we linked up. As soon as they arrived we shoved off bound for Solomon's, MD. We managed to find a shallow spot just outside of Galesville but were able to back off and continue our journey.

Saturday's journey was uneventful as we proceeded South. That changed once we turned West on the entrance to Solomon's. We were arriving after dark, so were relying heavily on our GPS as we approached the unfamiliar harbor. Before we made the final turn into the marina the course to steer pointer on the GPS became disoriented and pointed us towards shore, as the water got shallower, we figured out something was amiss. As we felt our way back out to the channel and bumped the bottom several times but eventually made it to the correct side of the channel marker. A quick look at the GPS led me to question the GPS, it was showing the direction of travel was oriented 90 degrees to port, so it kept telling us to turn to starboard and into the houses along the shore. While I was trying to reorient to the  landmarks Elizabeth prayed for guidance. A few moments later we heard  a VHF call to the boat trying to enter the harbor.  This helpful call from a local boat "Key West" offering to help guide us into the marina. After a brief conversation it turns out they were offering to help another boat but we took them up on their offer and once they described what the general approach to the marina looked like from a "shore lights" perspective we were back on track and following the channel markers into our dock. We found our parking spot just as described and were quickly tied up and then walked up to the "The Back Creek Bistro" for dinner, we were seated even though we were a little under dressed, and put our order in minutes before the kitchen closed. The meal and service was excellent and we look forward to our next visit.