Friday, October 23, 2009

the leaning lighthouse at Sharp's Island

Next day was sunny and breezy - HERE was the perfect sailing day I was dreaming of! We pulled off the dock without mishap and glided along in the sunshine, to set anchor at Mill Creek off the Patuxent River near Solomon's just at 5:00. I'm not much of a lighthouse collector but just love the leaning one at Sharp's Island, which we passed around lunchtime. Just as we were coming in to anchor, the cellphone rang. It was a business call that Dan had to take. What a piece of inconvenient timing! A half-hour earlier, we would have been in open water and I could have handled the boat alone while he talked. A half hour later, and we would have been stationary, securely anchored. But here we were in a situation that required both of us to navigate. I couldn't go ahead alone, so instead, I held the boat on station, essentially marching in place, slowly turning circles while Dan answered questions. He explained to his caller why he was so distracted and said, "Bet you haven't had THAT excuse yet today!"

Turned out that day was the only nice weather we were to have all week. The next day brought a cold front. It was a trade-off. The wind was from the north, which was a good direction to blow us south. At the same time, winds from the north in autumn tend to be chilly and drizzly, and this one was no exception. And it was to be a long day; our destination was 43 miles south. Ironically, it has been said that there are so many nooks and crannies - "gunkholes" - in the Chesapeake that you can anchor in a different spot every night of your life and still not see all of them. However, none of these great gunkholes were along our way! The very thing that makes them great is their out-of-the-way-ness, and we were just looking for the opposite, close and convenient. There were no good stopping places at all in this stretch of the Bay, which is why we planned a long day. We bundled up in layers of fleece, jackets and hats and gloves and bright yellow foul-weather gear, and off we went. Bad weather always looks worse through a pane of glass, and we ended the day feeling chilly, tired, and accomplished, in another Mill Creek, this time off the Great Wicomico River near Reedville, VA. This was the third Mill Creek we'd anchored in during the past month - the first was the one off Whitehall Bay near Annapolis.
The next day, Thursday, was cold and drenching rain. The wind was howling outside but the anchorage was lovely and quiet and we decided to stay put. We'd use the down time to more properly stow the provisions we'd brought aboard in Annapolis. Of course, we'd be buying food along the way. Still, there were certain favorite things we'd stocked up on before leaving Annapolis, a buying binge at Trader Joes and Whole Foods, and a case of good Spanish wine that was a farewell gift from friends Juan and Maria. We had been storing those things in the V-berth by day so we had room to sit down in our living space and moving them out into the salon at night when it was time to sleep. That little dance was getting old fast!

The other thing that was getting old was dampness. Of course, being in a boat is humid to start with, and in the cold days there was condensation everywhere. It was the kind of weather that just begged a pot of soup, but if we added any more humidity to the boat, water would have started dripping from the ceiling.

Friday we sailed again, in rougher colder weather than we'd seen so far, a foretaste of the winter weather we're sailing south to avoid. Our destination was directly downwind and we couldn't sail there in a straight line because the following seas, 4 or 5-foot waves, would make the boat impossible to handle. So we steered a zigzag course in the mist, which made it longer - it took 7 hours to go 25 nautical miles. In some cases we were surfing down the face of the waves, exhilarating but barely in control, a day that was tough on the people as well as the gear. But all's well that ends well, and now we're tied up snugly at the Deltaville Marina. Lovely place, by the way, we were able to borrow a car to get fresh vegetables, do laundry, and top up our water and diesel, and are ready to go next week. Loveliest of all, to us, was a secure place to be plugged in, warm and dry while we heard the chill wind whistling a gale outside. We broke a temperature record at Norfolk VA yesterday - the coldest Oct 17 on record.

PS - got an email from my sister-in-law Karen. She commented that when she read my previous post that she could just see her brother standing on the dock saying 'No, wait for me, I want to go south to the islands. I did not mean for you to drop me off on the forsaken dock and take off to the islands without me!'

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chart Change!

Remember going on driving trips as a kid, you got so excited whenever you crossed a state line? It's like that for us when we pass from one chart to the next. We're now 4 charts south of Annapolis, anchored off the Great Wicomico River near Reedville, VA. Gorgeous little cove surrounded by trees ... some of which are showing fall colors! Yes, we're glad to be heading south. Today was a very long day, 43 nautical miles. The sky was gray and it was so chilly I had on long underwear, a fleece pullover, a fleece jacket, my foul-weather gear, and hat and gloves. (photo coming tomorrow). But the prediction for the next couple of days is wind, rain, and cold so we wanted a good spot to wait it out.

Before we left Annapolis we didn't have time to sort and stow all the provisions. So we've been moving lots of bags and boxes back and forth - into the V-berth by day, and out into the salon at bedtime. It'll be good to have a rainy day at home to find places to store all those things, and to just sit and think about our new life.

While we were southbound Solution hailed us on the VHF for a quick conference. Moments after our conversation was finished, we were hailed again, this time by an unfamiliar boat name - Elysium. Turns out, they were the other boat written up in Spinsheet in the same article as us; they recognized our name and were sailing just 1/4 mile behind us! They're a much bigger boat than us, hence much faster, and so we won't be able to keep up with them all the way to the Bahamas but we're going to try and connect up soon. Cool - our first underway new connection.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We're on our way!!!

We brought the docklines aboard on Monday afternoon, and started our great adventure! Details are in our blog called Life Afloat. Today we're anchored at Solomons, MD - it would only take an hour or so to drive here from Annapolis, but it was a day and a half by sail. Feels like forever ...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We're famous!

We have to go now ... we announced it to the world, check out this month's SpinSheet on p. 56

Photos From My Retirement Party, 27 Aug 09

Coming to work on my last day - Joy at her guard post.

The whole wonderful gang. It's been a real pleasure to work with such a group of smart people who believe in what they're doing and have a passion for science.

My boss, Lloyd, and the office chief, Katherine, picking on me for the last time <*wink*>
A USGS benchmark - very, very cool honor to receive. This is one piece of brass being added to the boat that I won't mind polishing.

My amazing secretary Brenda. We spent many Tuesday mornings at oh-dark-thirty comparing review schedules. She gave me this lovely clock as a retirement gift. It has NO ALARM FUNCTION - guess I'll be sleeping in from now on.

Frances getting goofy - never trust a geologist with a knife!

The cake was really good ... in addition to being a major sugar buzz!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Public blog, private blog

Welcome aboard!! We're looking forward to our trip and looking forward to sharing stories with you. Jaye's pretty excited that she'll be blogging about the trip for the Annapolis Capital newspaper online, in a blog called "Life Afloat." That should be the first place you look for news of us; it's also accessible from the right-hand bar of this blog ("my other blogs"). This blog, for friends and family, will be for anything that doesn't quite fit in the public blog, either because it's too long, too many photos, or too personal. Thanx for reading!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Carnaval, Aruba, February 2009 (part 2 of 2)

Most of my photos are of individuals who graciously, and proudly, posed for me showing off their work, but this is to give you the idea that there were LOTS of people in each "group."

This "road piece" was a major crowd-pleaser. Our Arubian friend H. told us that peacock feathers cost about 2 florin (about $1.15) EACH, so this guy's committment to Carnaval, both in time and money, really shows. Our liveaboard neighbor S. jokes that he wants to do something like this next Halloween. (or maybe just photoshop his face into this picture???)

Startin' 'em young - even the kids get into the act, as this junior beauty queen shows!

Carnaval, Aruba, February 2009 (part 1 of 2)

Carnaval season officially begins on November 11, at 11:11 am - but as you can see from the intricacy of some of these costumes, work actually begins almost the day after the previous year's carnival ends! The parade, which also featured LOUD live music and bands, took over 5 hours to pass the spot where we stood watching.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting Started

This is the place we'll be posting all our adventures that don't fit Life Afloat, the blog Jaye publishes in our local newspaper, the Annapolis Capital.