half-way measures


This post is from Walkabout's Log from October 8, 2016 to October 28. Annapolis, MD to Beaufort, ND. About halfway to Miami...

Today was rather unproductive, no boat work got done and I haven’t gone ashore because it’s pouring rain and tonight will be windy.  I did, however, manage to write and post a blog entry.  That job took most of the day, the wifi connection was intermittent and I had an unknown problem with Windows 10 that locked my computer in airplane mode for a while.  For another unknown reason it started to work just as I was about to throw in the towel.

I had a good time yesterday though, the boat show in Annapolis was super, I got some things I needed and information for projects to come. Now I have another Cuba cruising guide with the latest information on the North Coast, very important, and a new Nautos line locker for the vang line.  That will allow use of the winch for the staysail sheet after the vang is hardened up.  I may screw it down on the cabin top before dark.

Laura and Graeham

I walked into town this noon and met up with two friends Jeanne and I had met and traveled with on our first Bahama trip in 2010-11.  Laura and Graeham Parkinson hail from the great white north near Ottawa and keep a boat on the Chesapeake.  Jeanne discovered they would be in Annapolis this weekend and told me to get in touch which I was happy to do and thoroughly enjoyed the visit.  We sat in the sun in front of Pusser’s Bar on the deck reminicing for three hours.  That’s two reunions in a week.
On my walk back to the dinghy I stopped at Weems and Plath where they had a tent sale going and bought a new ship’s clock and a fancy hook for my oil lamp.  Like any lady Walkabout needs accessories.

Unfortunaxtely……….. its one tninv axfter axnotner on tnis boat.
tne coputer keyboaxrd is not functioninv properly.. maxyb.e i caxn vet ax substitute
i spilled wniskey on it wnen ax boat went by
now i caxn’t write axnytninv sensible
but maxybe you caxn reaxd it axnywaxy

There is a special app that allows one to type like on a cellphone and, as you might expect, it’s slow.

But if I use tne keys tnis is tne result

I’ll bike around this morning searching for another keyboard.

(later) Thanks to the gentleman who runs Fawcett’s Marine Supply, who gave me an old keyboard of theirs, I’m now back in business.  Otherwise I would have been faced with a long, long bike ride on busy streets to find a computer repair shop.  Another example of kindness between boaters.
On my shorter than expected bike ride this morning I managed to buy a new circuit breaker, engine parts and breakfast.  A productive morning.  Now I’ll install the engine parts (two small switches) and walk back to the boat show in Annapolis to spend the afternoon.  The circuit breaker can be an evening job.
Tomorrow the wind is supposed to die down a little, it’s been howling for two days out of the north and Chesapeake Bay has small craft warnings today because of waves.  Maybe, if I feel conditions are good enough I’ll move south a little, to St. Michael’s or Solomon’s Island.

The circuit breaker for the refrigerator failed shortly after leaving Vermont. Substituting the adjacent breaker for the seldom used washdown pump kept the food cool but the labels on the panel didn’t match function – troubling but not critical – and Fawcett’s had a replacement.  I fitted it in place this morning, and now all is well… The laptop has gradually been recovering from it’s keyboard immersion incident and all but one key is working correctly.  To replace the thing would be costly not to mention difficult to do.  And in the end I’d still be stuck with Windoz ten, a travesty of monumental proportions.
The weather, after hurricane Matthew passed far to the south of Annapolis, has become sunny and much cooler.  It’s supposed to hold like this until Thursday when a front comes down with winds up to thirty knots.  I would like to move and will try the Broad Creek area on the eastern shore near the town of St. Michaels that Laura and Graeham told me was well worth visiting.  Judging from the charts the small inlets off the main river are deep enough for Walkabout and are sheltered from wind and waves.  If I leave Annapolis tomorrow early there should be time to carefully find a spot.

Racing Club Boats
Racing Club Boats

Walkabout has been in Annapolis a week and it is time to move on.  Today, after some chores I’ll will head a few miles south and over to the eastern shore to Broad Creek near the town of St. Michaels to find a suitable spot to anchor.  Winds for tomorrow night are going to be strong from the north and, at least on the charts, the creeks look protected.  We shall see.
The big sailboat show this past weekend in Annapolis was worth going to if only for a chance to see the newest products.  I met and talked to the Nautos people, a Brazilian company new to the market that is enthusiastically selling well made, and competitive hardware.  The large, established manufacturers, with flashy, overstaffed displays, might want to pay attention.  To find a good deal, however, it’s best to wait until the last day of the show, vendors are willing to haggle a bit and sell something instead of packing it up.
It seems the average sailboat enthusiast today either wants a small fast boat or a huge catamaran.  Prices for these toys are staggering, half a million is a good starting place.  No wonder that the people I’ve met out cruising on a newer boat have sold their homes.  I like the room on catamarans, similar to your own private island.  Maintenance doubles and they can’t sail upwind but the space, inside and out, is spectacular.  And cats always seem to have the most innovative names: “Catapult”, etc.  There were lots of small sailboats at the show this year, racers and daysailers, trailerable boats that look easy to care for and fun to use.  Hobie, the catamaran company had a pedal powered board, like a stand-up paddleboard, with a handle bar arrangement for steering and stair-climber pedals; you can fill your need for exercise and watersports both at the same time.  The booths were giving away small advertising gimmicks, I’m stocked up now on beer can sweaters, pens, and floating key chains.  The boat show business in Annapolis is an ongoing thing: The Fall powerboat show starts this weekend!



I visited the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s today, it was well worth the time. I watched as museum volunteers hauled two huge logs out of the water on a marine rail lift.  The logs are for boat timbers that they carve out for a reconstruction project on a bugeye fishing vessel.  The museum covers acres and has a complete screwpile lighthouse, numerous boat building barns, a 700Hp steam engine, a water fowl hunting history display and enough other exhibits that I couldn’t see it all.  I’m lame from all the walking.

Tug for oyster boats
Tug for oyster boats

Instead of staying another day in San Domingo Creek I went out early today into the Chesapeake for a forty mile motor sail to Solomon’s Island.  Jeanne and I had anchored there twice before so I made it in before dark and anchored in quiet Mill Creek, out of the normal traffic, a good choice for a night of sleep.


Left Mill Creek at dawn after wiping off the dodger windows, the temperature had dropped to 48 degrees and the boat was heavy with dew.  Cold sleeping even with two blankets but it’s supposed to warm up.  As I was pulling the anchor, Sweet Chariot II went by on headed for their home port in Deltaville, VA and we waved goodbye once more.  My destination today is the Indian River off Fleets Bay, about a fifty mile trip and it looks like a motoring day ahead.

Yesterday was a motorboat ride all day but I got into the Indian River just at sunset in time to watch the full moon rise over the houses next to shore.  I anchored in Belle Cove, lined on one side by a row of new condominiums all alike.  Around the rest of the cove are older, more traditional homes which match the setting far better.  Such is progress I guess, but only three out of eight condos were occupied.  The silence of the little pond was broken only by a dog barking and a deafening cigarette boat passing by on the river.belle_creek-1

Today I had the longest day trip travelling on the Chesapeake, 54 miles to Portsmouth, VA just south of Norfolk.  Tonight I am splurging a bit staying in a marina on a slip.  The ride down this afternoon wasn’t thrilling by any means, the wind was on the nose most of the day and my speed varied between a frustrating four knots and a satisfying seven which can get you someplace.  My concern was to get into the marina before dark, or before the staff went home because Walkabout doesn’t like to back up into a slip and I would need line handlers.  But it was all good.  Two marina guys helped me slide up to the narrow pier, tied me off and said “Goodnight, check-in in the morning”.  I have a long list of things to do here in town, number two is to fix or replace my laptop after number one: a long hot shower.

Met a couple next to me on the boat Lady A.  They are traveling from Maine to South Carolina out on the Atlantic all the way.  They have a converted lobster boat, an extremely well built craft it looked like.  They were gone this morning down the ICW and I didn’t get their names but if I see them again I’ll be more alert.  On the other side is Philip who is traveling by himself, occasionally, on his sailboat Sounds Great.  He is in no hurry, which is a very good idea.
Reports are coming in slowly with little specific detail about the condition of the Intracoastal Waterway other than there are higher than normal tides, up to three feet higher in places, and uprooted trees clogging the canal.  I heard on the SSB radio this morning one cruiser saying he was in the Dismal Swamp Canal and might be able to move on in a couple days.  The Coast Guard is working on it.  Flooding from Hurricane Matthew is just cresting in North Carolina’s rivers and will subside in a week local weather says.  All the more reason to find a place to hang out awhile.

Oyster boats.
Oyster boats.

This morning I took my bike and pedaled a dozen miles or so on High Street visiting two computer stores that were on my list to check out.  The first was an Apple only place, couldn’t help, but the second store, much further away on the busy highway had a machine that I hope will do what I need.  It was a fine day for a bike ride and was marred only once with a fall to the pavement.  Lucky I crash well.  Nothing hurt but my pride.  And it was on the way out, not on the way back with the new computer in my backpack!  I think I’ll have a sore right hand but it could have been worse.

I paid for two nights here at Tidewater Marina, I’ll move the boat tomorrow morning over to the town docks a couple blocks away for another day or two.  The docks are free and there were only two sailboats there this afternoon.  If they are full I’ll just continue south on the ICW to the nearest anchorage.  I’ll be in the waterway until I’m down to Cape Fear then go offshore.

I made a short hop to Portsmouth’s North Landing ferry boat docks and tied up at the free pier.  It was slack high tide so I didn’t need a hand with lines.  According to the signs you can stay here for 36 hours, but I’ve seen boats stay here a week.  It’s free but you get what you pay for, the ferry wakes will slam your boat into the pilings if the driver is going fast.  Walkabout got a small scrape.
This evening I walked over to High Street to Baron’s Pub for a burger and a monster mug of Sweet Baby Jesus stout that one should sample at least once.  That should hold me for a while.

After a quick bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee I was out on the Elizabeth River headed south again.  Right off the bat I was dodging traffic, Navy workboats milling about in the middle of the river, a sailboat captain with tunnel vision sidled up a bit close before he saw me, and a monster of a vessel half a mile upstream listing badly and appearing not to be moving suddenly blew five loud blasts on its horn. Who, me?  Another five warning blasts echoed off adjacent Navy ships and the big steel bridge I was going under.  I headed for the only vacant spot and watched the obviously disabled cargo ship being pushed by a tug crawl on by.  I got out of there as fast as my boat would go.  Then came two drawbridges and a lock, the bridges each took a little time but the lock took over an hour and it only rises and falls three feet!  In contrast, Will and I passed through locks on the Champlain Canal that have vertical lifts of twenty feet and we were in and out in only twenty minutes.

It was a good day though, went fifty miles motoring in a gentle wind and a nice, warm sun.  I crossed Currituck Sound and by late afternoon got into the little town of Coinjock, NC and tied to Midway Marina’s dock for the night.  Craig and Donna Lewis on Mighty Fine were there to help with my lines and later we had a small party on the porch.  Hurricane Matthew did some damage in the area, the water is still very high flooding yards and roads in spots.  Inland there is worse destruction, and I was told that some low-lying towns have to pump the water out, where to I can’t imagine. On the other hand, the extra water is great for us boaters traveling on the ICW as it means less danger of grounding (not to diminish the local folk’s problems).  On the way I also waved to Lawrence of Elle and I whom I haven’t seen for a few years, he waved back but I don’t know if he knew me.  Later I found they have mechanical problems and are waiting for repairs.  Meeting people you’ve met cruising before is a pretty common occurance, the community is not very large.


For us who love wildlife I witnessed a rather disturbing thing.  Close your eyes.  Canada geese migrate through the great wetlands along our East Coast, the natural barrier protecting our shores, a nourishing littoral that feeds birds, animals of all kinds, and us.  The geese seem to be everywhere, in the canal, people’s front yards, parking lots, flying overhead.  It was just when a flock of a dozen geese, honking as they do, flew over my bow.  One goose was leading and the late afternoon sun illuminated a long thread of monofilament fishing line streaming out behind it.  The bird was distressed and landed in a pond alongside the canal.  The whole flock followed it in and landed too.  Well, I thought, what can I do?  Not much, was the sad fact.  Draw what you will from it but people kill a lot.

At first light this morning I was off, and got behind a tug and barge first thing and didn’t get to pass and be out of his wake for an hour.  Just before the canal expands into Albemarle Sound the tug pulled aside and slowed so all the sailboats could get by.  Albemarle is so large that one cannot see shoreline when in the middle, it’s like being at sea for a few minutes and then land becomes visible again.  But that is the view from a sailboat’s deck not like that from a power cruiser’s helm high up over the water.  We sailors live close to the surface.  Sea level…
I motored all day as usual passing from the Albemarle through the infamous gap at Middle Ground, where channel markers were being repaired by the Coast Guard, into the Alligator River for fifteen miles.  I stopped for the day at mile 102 where there is a slight expansion of eight foot deep water and a good anchoring spot and spent the night listening to military aircraft thundering in the distance.

What fog we had this morning, so thick you couldn’t see a hundred yards.  I washed the boat’s plastic windows down with warm water so I could see and slowly followed three boats out of the anchorage.  But the fog lowered and got so bad I stopped at the next wide spot and waited for an hour before going on into the Alligator-Pungo canal.  Inside the canal, no problem.  You can see both sides easily and shortly the sun came out with a southerly breeze and the day became very summerlike.  Boat traffic increased, big yachts rumbled past me slowing down to pass.  Politeness is rampant and I wish it were more so.  The procedure to follow is, call the boat you’re passing, ask him to slow down, slow down yourself and pass.  That way your wake won’t tip his boat over and dump everything inside it on the cabin floor.  Or scald someone in the galley.  Invariably we will have someone who, either because of ignorance or willfulness, will refuse to slow down when passing.  I can handle it, Walkabout sure can too, but some others have a tough time recovering from a four foot wake.
I arrived at the Belhaven, NC harbor at two this afternoon and felt my way, with the help of Phil on Cyan, into the town docks at the far end of the harbor.  The dock itself is well built but the slips leave something to be desired and no cleaning had been done for a long time so the dock is covered with guano.  Coincidentally, Belhaven’s mayor walked out on the dock with a sidekick apologizing about the upkeep.  No one came to clean it though.  Once again, you get what you pay for.  I don’t care, the wind is supposed to be in the thirty knot range tonight and tomorrow.  I pedaled my bike a mile to the grocery store and later my new friend Phil and I will walk to town for supper and drinks with some other cruisers.  Another couple, Amy and Bert on Sparrow came by in their dinghy earlier and I found that they are going to Cuba too.  Perhaps a flotilla is forming.

Slow Pass

Walkabout and Cyan were quietly swinging on their lines as their captains Phil and I soggily tramped back through the blowing rain and ankle deep tidewater after our visit to a tavern in town.  The tavern owner felt sorry for us and lent us an umbrella and her husband drove us the half-mile to the dock.  Nice folks in Belhaven.  The wind and rain were short lived and I was settled in by ten.  Something woke me at three in the morning, the boat had a different feel so I went up to the cockpit and checked the depth sounder – it read 0.3Ft.  That’s four inches under the keel and she was bouncing off the bottom.  I was afraid of that happening and lay awake in bed until daylight cursing my choice.  In the early hours, half awake, the worst always seems inevitable but at eight o’clock the depth had risen to 0.9Ft and since I had tied up the day before at 1400 with 2.4Ft of water under me I hoped it would get deeper by noon.  So I hiked around in the morning doing little errands and talked to one shopkeeper about the bay – he fished out there – and learned that the wind has more of an effect on the water level than the tide.  That tidbit made me determined to get the boat out of her slip because the wind was blowing from the North at fifteen knots and probably would for days to come.  Phil was on his boat when I got back and helped me with my lines as trusty Walkabout, who must have known the danger she was in, backed straight out of her slip for once into the wind and waves and we carefully moved out into much deeper water and dropped anchor.
Tomorrow we are off to the marina at River Dunes.

My well set Rocna anchor came off the bottom in Belhaven Harbor with a struggle, which was a good thing considering the wind blew over twenty knots all Saturday afternoon and night.  We left with six other boats all heading South, sails up motors running, down the Pungo River through the Pungo canal and out into the mighty Neuse River.  Waves were running two to three feet in the Pungo but had calmed down by noon.  As we entered the Neuse I noticed what appeared to be two boats beside each other far ahead of me.  As I got closer I saw a blue flashing light on one and realized the Coast Guard was just leaving a sailboat and mine was next in line.  Sure enough, in a few minutes the cutter was coming up fast on my port side and a sailor on its bow was shouting that they were coming aboard for an inspection.  Two Coast Guardsmen then jumped on board my boat armed with guns and clipboards and settled themselves down in the cockpit.  I had never had an inspection, or been boarded in my home country before so this was a new experience.  The fellows were courteous asking for my papers: Driver’s license, documentation, where my fire extinguishers were and if I had a lifejacket.  All this while I was trying to steer the boat and stay in the narrow channel.  One officer, I think his name was Jim, took the wheel while I went below to get what they asked for and was a little reluctant to give it up when I got back. Jim said he had never steered a sailboat. I passed the inspection and the officers hopped back on their cutter after giving me a copy to show if another USCG boat wants to board us.  I’ll keep it handy.

USCG Inspectors

I continued without incident and pulled into River Dunes at 1400, a quick 39 mile run.  After fueling up and pumping out the marina crew found me a slip for the next two nights.

This is a day for computer work, the nasty little devils have taken over our lives.
The keyboard on my old laptop is toast but the plugin keyboard works.  The combination is cumbersome to carry around but I’ll have to do it until my new machine has the apps I use installed and files transferred.  The internet connection here seems adequate, I’ll get some of the tasks done.

I downloaded the diary app I use for this journal and chose the professional evaluation edition, I’ve used their free version for a long time and thought that maybe the pro version would be worth buying.  But, when I enabled it the darn thing has a graphic plopped right on top of it’s workspace. How can it be evaluated? Such genius. So it’s back to my original program for a month when the new app reverts to free status, unless the ad stays then I’ll have to dump it.


I left River Dunes this morning driving out into the Neuse River and a stiff North wind which was raising waves up to three feet.  Good thing I was going South, it turned into an eight mile sail, jib only, hitting six knots at times.  Then we turned down Adams Creek for the long motor to Beaufort, NC arriving at 1300 and dropping anchor in Taylor Creek just off Carrot Island.  The island is part of the Rachel Carson Marine Sanctuary and in addition to it being an important place in the study of marine life it also is home to a herd of wild horses which can be seen from time to time at waters edge.  They were there today.  Pretty Beaufort is on the other side of the creek with shops and restaurants strung out from one end to the other.  It’s laid-back, seasonal; a quiet refuge to wait a day or two in. I’ll stay a couple days before continuing South.

Donna of Mighty Fine
Donna of Mighty Fine

This morning I tramped around with the Mighty Fines and the Mar-A-Lagos to the used boat stuff store and then went by myself over to the North Carolina Maritime Museum to spend a couple hours.  The museum is a good one concentrating on local boat building, the oyster fishery and the pirate Blackbeard, whose vessel Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered just offshore and has been the object of archaeological recovery for the past ten years.  There were cannon, coins and all types of relics displayed making it quite interesting.

ncmm-2 A young, fifteen year old, sperm whale was beached nearby some years ago and local amateurs with the help of some professional people (cetologists?) buried the animal and four years later exhumed it, treated and then reassembled the skeleton which now hangs overhead in the museum.  There is no good reason not to visit because it’s free.

1913 Evinrude

Everyone except me left this morning headed to their next destination.  I didn’t feel much like traveling, instead I went out for breakfast at a local bubba restaurant and stuffed myself and then went back to the boater’s consignment shop and bought a fishing rod.  It’s my birthday, maybe I’ll fish some.  My friends and I went to the Mexican restaurant on Front Street last night where we had a good supper and then they sang happy birthday for me, wasn’t that nice?  Little things like that seem special when you’re by yourself for any length of time – self imposed or not.
Tomorrow I’ll get going again and try to get closer to the other Beaufort down in South Carolina where it should be possible to go offshore again.


so it begins

Back Creek, Annapolis, MD


(This is taken from my daily journal, so there may be repetitions.)

September 22, 2016

We got started yesterday morning at 0630, barely half an hour after our planned departure.  The lake was calm and remained that way even with the wind building from the South.  Will Patten had signed on as crew and was getting his bearings with this boat so he steered many miles.  Going through the locks is a tricky business so his company was very much appreciated.  I had taken over the helm at the Narrows and was pointing out where Jeanne and I had tied up for a night when we suddenly and violently bottomed out and came to a stop.  It was a quick jolt of reality and I thought “Well now we’re in trouble”.  But a Canadian boat which had been following us for a couple miles came to our rescue and pulled us off the sandbar.  Jackie and Christian on Que Syrha are now our newest best friends.

We are just now getting ready to cast off for the next lock and then on to Mechanicville.

Jeanne drove all the way over here to bring me a cell phone cable I forgot.  She stayed for dinner but didn’t want to sleep over.  She also gave me a number to call about the Coast Guard form I submitted.  I’ll add more to that later.

The coast guard were inflexible, they want a revised form sent that specifies the two week limit to stay in Cuba that I was trying to eliminate.  I will do that but if I can I will stay longer and just say it was due to boat trouble or bad weather.

Jeanne got home alright from Whitehall and is expecting to drive down to Catskill when we get there on the 24th.


September 23, 2016

Will and I cleared the Champlain Canal’s lock system and are now in the Hudson River a little south of Troy, NY headed for Catskill.  I called Mike at Riverview Marina this morning asking him if they could step the mast tomorrow and it looks good if we can make it there today.    Jeanne will come down and bring home the lumber for the cradle so it will be available when I return in the spring.

Foggy morning at Catskill, NY

It’s a cloudy morning, a few drops of rain fell earlier but now the sun is poking through and clearing is forecast for tonight so it may be a good day for stepping the mast after all.

September 24, 2016

Today was a productive day.  Walkabout’s mast was stepped this morning and after Will, Jeanne and I put on the jib and main sails I spent the rest of the afternoon attaching wires and rigging lines.  With the exception of one light bulb, which I will change in the morning, the boat is ready to go.  I hope to leave around ten tomorrow catching the outgoing tide and anchor in the Mt. Dunderberg anchorage by evening.  If I can do that then I can get to NYC by Tuesday.

Jeanne drove all the way to Catskill this morning to pick up the cradle boards.  Will rode back to Fair Haven with her to meet his wife Kathleen who drove down from Hinesburg to pick him up.  I can’t thank him enough for helping me through the locks, and for his good company too.

I washed some laundry late this afternoon and got a shower before going to dinner with Jackie and Chris, the Canadians on Que Syrah.  Nice folks, and I’m sure we will meet again along the waterway or in the Bahamas.  They have grand plans: sailing to the Baltic next Spring, returning to the Eastern Caribbean and then on to the Western Caribbean and then to the west coast of the US and Alaska.  They have alloted ten years for their journey.

September 25, 2016

Looking North from West Point.

Left Riverview this morning at 0915 into the Hudson River.  It was slack tide so I could drive along at five knots.  The wind was coming from the North and I tried the jib to help the boat along but it was too light for any effect on my speed.  As the morning went on the tide ebbed faster and faster until by early afternoon we were going over seven knots.  The speed continued until we passed West Point at 1700 (5PM) and then slowly dropped as the tide switched but I made it to my destination for the day, an anchorage in shallow water across from the Indian Point Reactor in Bucanan, NY.  When we had stopped before at that anchorage frieght trains would go by all night making a racket but the tracks were being repaired so I had a peaceful night’s sleep.

September 26, 2016

Monday morning I was underway by 0830 into a river covered with fog.  The sun breaking through made it a very bucolic sight.  Again, like the day before the tide picked up and at 1100 we were barrelling by the new construction on the Tappan Zee Bridge.  The concrete structures are huge yet appear graceful.  It should be finished within a year I’d guess.  The cost must be out of this world.  Walkabout passed under the George Washington Bridge two hours later and turned into the mooring field at the 79th St. Municipal Marina an hour after that.  But the tide at 79th Street had reached full ebb and it looked like I was going to have my hands full picking up a mooring.  I tried compensating for the tidal flow by motoring up to a vacant ball, two tethers streaming away from it. I slowed the engine and walked quickly up to the bow and leaned out with my boathook to grab a line but the boat was moving too fast and before I could prevent it the boathook was pulled out of my hand into the river.  Blast!  Wheeling the boat around I could see my hook floating in the water moving downstream.  I was not going to lose that valuable item without a fight.  Matching its drift I got Walkabout sideways in the stream and almost got it aboard but missed!  One more turn around and in between the other moored boats.  I was getting encouragement from onlookers and snaked the vagrant utensil back aboard on the second try.  But I still had to moor my boat.  Lesson one: Go slow. Real slow. It took two attempts before I could attach a line but it got done.  Never hurry around boats.

Almost to the 79th Street Marina.

September 27, 2016

Last night was vicious moored in the Hudson River, waves rolled up the river on a south wind blowing twenty knots.  Coupled with wakes from the ferries and tugboats Walkabout reared and swung so I couldn’t get around the cabin without hanging on for dear life.  The mooring ball was another matter as the current, sometimes as much as three knots, pushed the boat over the ball banging its metal hardware against the hull. Little sleep was to be had.
I did some small repairs this morning, sewing and cleaning, then went ashore in the dinghy to walk the streets of New York City.  What a zoo.  I tired of it quickly and after buying lunch and some essentials at the grocery went back home to my boat.  I’ll stay here until Thursday then move down to Atlantic Highlands, NJ to wait for a weather window to sail offshore around New Jersey and down to Norfolk.  According to the weather service Sunday might look good.

September 28, 2016

 Slide for more pictures <...>

I walked over to the MET today, it’s on the other side of Central Park, about a mile and a half following 79th Street and then up a few blocks.  Central Park is a kick, if you think New Yorkers are pussies you should walk with them sometime.  I couldn’t keep up.  Although I’ve been to the museum before it’s always different because they change the exhibits frequently, you’ll never see the same things if you go as seldom as I do.  This time they had artifacts from Jerusalem dating back to the time of the Crusades, 1000 – 1300AD.  The presentation is superb as you might expect from the foremost art museum in the country. I walked until I couldn’t anymore.  On the way back to the boat I stopped at a cycle shop on Amsterdam St. and bought a tire pump, something I just didn’t have, and then went to the Westside Market again for a few subsistence items and then back to my boat.  It was a long and tiring day.  We think because we live in the country we’re really outdoorsy but I’ll rethink that and perhaps make amends to my lifestyle…

September 29, 2016

After all the walking yesterday I must have been more exhausted than I first thought because I had to force myself to get up.  At seven-thirty Chris Parker’s weather program starts and the clock read 0746, a bit late, but so was Parker and I caught the rather dismal forecast.  It doesn’t look good for travel down the coast until Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday are OK but by Wednesday things start to get dicey.  Tropical storm Mathew is due to arrive near the Carolinas by next Thursday and it just might be a good idea to be in a protected place, where I’m not sure.  If I can get the boat to the Inland Waterway – Norfolk, VA is where it starts – I could tuck in to the Dismal Swamp Canal which, I think, may offer some shelter from storm winds and certainly surge.  Anyway, I bought one more night on my 79th Street mooring and may leave tomorrow in the late afternoon.  It won’t be perfect but I think it may be the best option.
Chris and Jackie on Que Syrah are here and want to travel with me, why I’m not sure, but it will be good to have company.  Misery loves company.

September, 2016

Freedom, out of Mystic, CT.

I went to the marina building this morning and very slowly did a small load of laundry.  The Quebecers were all there discussing their next move, I was included but there is a language barrier so while I think I know what they’re up to I’m not absolutely sure.  After going back to the boat and hauling the dinghy up on the davits I called Chris on Que Syrah and said that I would be at Liberty Landing for fuel and water; he replied that they would follow in half an hour.  It took almost an hour to get to the marina and find the fuel dock. It is very confusing, they have two fuel docks and when people say “Over here!” on the radio the directions aren’t always clear.  But they were very nice and helped me tie up and handed me a water hose so I could fill the tanks before getting fuel.  I filled the front tank while standing in the rain talking to Mike, another customer, about boats.  Then I started to fill the main water tank.  Meanwhile the engine had been idling all this time and I went and shut it down.  The sound of the boat’s pressure water pump reached my ears – that shouldn’t be – darn, a hose has come apart.  I turned the pump off and went to look for the leak, sure enough a coupling had popped and water had been pouring into the bilge.  Not from the first tank but from the 100 gallon main tank that I now was in the process of filling.  It was taking much longer than I had expected!  Then I looked in the bilge.  Water had come within three inches of the floorboards.  Pumping like mad I got it all out in twenty minutes, now I was soaked inside and out.
I got my diesel fuel and left.  By now the wind had picked up out of the northeast to twenty-eight knots and New York Harbor was a turmoil of waves and ferry boats that I was charging through at over seven knots.

Lady Liberty

I turned on the radar after nearly clipping a buoy, it’s bell clanging in the fog and rain.  Heading toward Coney Island to get clear of ship traffic I went under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and then bore East into rather large swells coming in from the sea.  To travel another eleven miles across Raritan Bay to get to Atlantic Highlands this late in the day and in such bad weather was foolish so I looked for an alternative place to anchor.  At 1640 (4:40PM) the hook went down in Gravesend Bay (isn’t that nice?) just north of the western tip of Coney Island.  The current is strong here but I’m hopeful it will prove a safe place for tonight, and maybe Saturday night too.

October 1, 2016

It wasn’t too bad in Gravesend Bay overnight, there was some swell coming in from the ocean but Coney Island blocked the worst of it so I got some sleep.  In the morning after I stocked up on a big breakfast I pulled up anchor and headed out to follow the Quebeckers who had stayed in Horseshoe Cove on Sandy Hook Friday night and had just contacted me as they rounded the tip of the hook.  My course had to be farther north following the shipping channel out of New York Harbor, so they went on far before me and I haven’t heard from them again.  The wind was blowing over twenty knots from the northeast and the ocean swells were from the southeast making for a confused sea but Walkabout rolled on all day nonplussed.  I was on autopilot most of the time and the few times I took the helm myself left a crooked GPS track.  The machine does a much better job than a human I’ll concede though in swells I can hold the boat steadier at the crests.  For the hours and hours it takes steering I’ll give it to Otto.

At night I had two encounters with tugboats pulling huge barges.  Both captains called on the radio warning of their presence and gave instructions to me on which way they wanted me to go.  A collision with a rig like that would be the end.  The electronics on those tugs must be phenomenal because the captains could tell where I was and where I was going better than I could myself.
As a single-hander you have to catch some sleep, I use a kitchen timer set for fifteen minutes which gives me time to doze and then jump up, look around, check instruments, and when I feel confident that nothing dangerous is about to happen, rest again. The radio is turned up as loud as possible and all the alarms set to go off if anything approaches within five miles. And that still isn’t enough to make me totally confident.
Even so, at six in the morning Sunday I was at the first red buoys near the Delaware River entrance, a place that always makes me think of my friend Carl Carlson who told me many stories of his days clamming those shoals; Prissy Wicks, Eph’s and Brandywine.  Carl was a fisherman’s fisherman.

Ship John Light

I hit the tide just right Sunday morning along with some enormous ships and we all went up the river together at speed.  After ten hours Walkabout had not only made it to the C&D Canal but nine miles through it to the little Chesapeake City cove where I anchored for the night in refreshingly dead calm water.


October 2, 2016

As I said before we got here at 1650 yesterday after 32 hours traveling from Gravesend Bay near Coney Island.  The trip was exhausting but I had to change the engine’s oil before I did anything else.  I made a mistake thinking that I had oil filters onboard and punctured the one on the engine to drain the oil out of it.  What a surprise that was.  I found that the Yanmar fuel filter uses the same dimensions as their oil filters so I substituted in this case.  Tomorrow I’ll search for the right ones but I think a filter is a filter and it will work long enough.
Had an OK burger for dinner and hit the sack after calling Jeanne who was glad to hear I was alive.  Tried to read but couldn’t and crashed.

October 3, 2016

Got a good night’s sleep in this super calm cove, nine hours of much needed rest.

First thing after a decent breakfast this morning was a dive over the side to check the prop for debris or crab pot line wrapped around it. I found nothing.  By the way the water was alright for swimming, dirty but warm. Then I took a much needed hot shower.
Carried my bike over on the dinghy this morning to ride to Middletown, DE where there is a NAPA store with #1334 type oil filters.  The trip was 16 miles round and went through semi-rural territory, farm fields interspersed with gated communities and an occasional single home.  The route I took had light traffic. The main road, Rt. 305 was thick with trucks but had bike lanes, a very good thing and one that should be everywhere.
Heather, the clerk at NAPA was ready with my filters when I arrived and was apologetic that they couldn’t deliver them to me but gave me a discount and a cloth shopping bag.  Earlier I had telephoned and asked if delivery was possible; “No” was the answer because of “Security” would you believe.  Maybe that explains all the gated communities.  I enjoyed my bicycle ride nonetheless, the land is flat as can be so it was easy, it’s been quite some time since I rode.

October 4, 2016

I left my secure anchorage at Chesapeake City this noon and headed south down  Chesapeake Bay towards Annapolis where I want to spend the rest of the week.  Annapolis is only fifty miles farther South and the storm predictions are for a strong northerly wind on Saturday night into Sunday morning but nothing over thirty-five knots.  In the creeks around the city there is good shelter.  The big sailboat show starts Thursday and goes all weekend.  I would like to find a replacement battery monitor and some good boat shoes at the show.  That isn’t a powerful reason for going but there are some people attending who I’d like to see again.

The trip today at first was slow but gained speed steadily until we were going over seven knots, that held and I got in just at sunset at the south anchorage right across the Severn River from the US Naval Academy.  The wind had been increasing all day as well and by the time I dropped anchor it was over twenty knots.  That continued overnight so conditions were pretty rough, not like the nights in NYC but bouncy enough to be less than pleasant.

October 5, 2016

After a night of pitching and rocking morning came full of sun and less wind.  The Navy cadets were moving their training ships back and forth in the Severn River, fueling up I think, as I hauled in the anchor to move Walkabout to a less exposed place.  Since I had anchored south of the city in Back Creek a couple times before that’s where I went.  Quite a few boats were there but I found a spot upstream from them and have room directly South behind me in case the North wind on Saturday night is worse than they say.  I’ll stay here until next week, by then most other travelers will have moved on and maybe I’ll have less traffic to worry about.

October 6, 2016

Jim Leavitt and his friend Karen met me on the Fourth Street dinghy dock late this morning and then after lunch drove me around Annapolis to aquaint me with the grocery stores and marine supply shops close by my anchorage that they thought I might need.  Jeanne and I met Jim back in Granada almost two years ago and he graciously made the offer just before I arrived.  It’s a great community this sailing bunch.  We all believe in helping one another when the opportunity comes.

October 7, 2016

I walked over to the Annapolis boat show this morning.  It’s big, no doubt about it with hundreds of people attending if not thousands, it’s hard to tell because the show extends from piers on land to docks in the water which limit foot traffic.  But it was a beautiful day, sunny and the temperature climbing into the high seventies: Sweater shedding weather.  I meandered through tents and exhibits showing everything from water makers to the latest in vacuum flushing toilets!!

img_20161007_161554 Out on the docks new boats were being boarded by shoeless gawkers, fifty footers, seventy footers with prices to match.  Fantastic craft.  Blunt bows, hydraulic winches and furlers for the sails, hands off sailing for anyone with the money. Dozens of them, Beneteau, DuFour, Bavaria, and on and on. If you make anything for sailboats this is the place to get some recognition.

Lo and behold my friends Jim and Karen showed up and we had a mini-party before I headed back to the boat.  If you know where to go at the boat show you can have a really good time!  For free!!

Now I have to install a new line-lock for my boom vang. Don’t understand?  Look it up.