Thursday, August 28, 2014

Over the Angst....for now

Remember the cardinal rule of cruising??  NO PLANS!!.....for all of us sometimes there is no other option a plan has to be made and as usual you end up with plan C or D.
When news came of Gary's dads passing we were on our way to a Marina in New Bern, N.C. and a rental car to drive to Michigan for a month.  We ran for 11 hours on Saturday when we were stopped by an approaching storm.  It was 5pm, we new,  unlike most of the day we were not going to dodge this one and Bonner Bay (just above our highlighted anchor) looked like a good spot for the night and it may have been if not for the winds that came after the rain.
We spent the night in 25 to 30 mph N.E. winds.  I didn't sleep all night listening to the creaking groaning and waves on the hull and felt like I was alternately riding the mechanical bull at Gilley's and being rocked by a REALLY mean nanny!!  It was not one of the "joys of boating nights"!  We moved first thing the next morning to a more protected spot and have been sitting since Sunday with lots of wind and 4 foot waves in the Neuse River and behind us in the big shallow rivers and sounds we had just traversed.
The Neuse is a shallow river that runs North and South.  It gets rough with little notice and believe me it was VERY ROUGH Sun. Mon. Tue. Yesterday morning the winds had died to 10 to 15 so we decided to stick our neck out into it to see if it was a go.  It was not!!  So we headed back to our anchoring spot.
Another plan that went awry was provisions. We knew we were going to be leaving the boat in N.C. for a month when we left Solomons and we shopped accordingly just enough for a week.  What you buy for a week is probably not going to last for two weeks, duh!  Milk, bread, meat and sandwich fixings are a distant memory, wine gone.
Gary said couple of  more day and Bob might be thinking of eating us!!!!!   Lesson learned?  Plan for the unexpected especially where the wine is concerned  :-)

Then there is the other "issue".....
We found out through a friend who contacted us with condolences that we might want to check with the marina we were headed for about their hurricane procedures.  We found out that if there was a Cat 1 hurricane coming the boat would have to be moved out of the marina into the Neuse River!!!  Funny that was never mentioned when we were there 5 weeks ago and talked to them about leaving it the month of September! I said Angst!!
After numerous phone calls to marinas and helpful input from our local boater friends from Marathon and the Loop trips,we have to change yet another plan . Changing plans is not my strong suit....I should not be a boater.
We of course had to cancel yesterday's Enterprise rental since we knew Tuesday it was not going to happen, got plane tickets instead and found another marina where the boat can stay at the dock.  Things just NEVER seem to go as planned but in this crazy world you can't do anything without a plan either.....go figure!!

So, what happens when you are marooned in the middle of nowhere with nowhere to go for 5 days???

This would be Gary's 2nd favorite thing to do....

                     Then there is the boaters' recreation.....This is Gary's first, read, read.  Funny I gave him the option to do some more varnishing and there was no reply only "the look".

This is definitely NOT Gary's favorite thing to do....but even he was affected this time.  Turns out we have a faulty vent part on the holding tank.  Not having a Home Depot handy 'McGiver' has temporarily fixed it with a "blue solo cup"....I can almost hear Toby Keith changing his lyrics!  Things are MUCH more pleasant now.
Another "joy of boating"  ......riiigghhhtttt!

Being a Type A boater and being turned down cold on the idea to sand and varnish ( heartbreak, we could have accomplished so much in five days!!)  I turned to my sewing machine, which has sat pretty much unused since February.

                    This is supposedly the quilt you can't screw up the Jelly Roll Race Quilt.
                       Not true....I can and did  screw it up but it still turned out pretty good.

                                     So I started another with scraps....we'll see how this goes.

                                                 Baby Quilt I think...thanks for the scraps Jill!!

  The rest of the pictures are sights of the trip from Solomons to Long Creek and they reflect the                      reason we keep on plodding along....

                                                             On Watch....

Bob holding on during one of our 'Creek Crawls'

Solomon's Harbor Storm

Array of antennas at Patuxent Naval Air Station

Granddaughter Sydney would say "Grandma, it looks like diamonds on the water"

Cloudy Morning Sunrise

The small and the mighty

Fore and Aft of  sister ships

Navy dry dock in the middle of the Elizabeth River Norfolk

Parting shot of Norfolk

I'm captivated by these curving bridges

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Good Bye

Smith "Bub" Merrill  February 18, 1917 - August 23, 2014

Dad at 93 !

Yesterday, Gary's dad, passed away. There is always sadness when you lose someone so dear. He was an extraordinary person who lived an extraordinary life for 97 years.  From the hell of the Bataan Death March in WWII to the unbelievable accomplishments of downhill skiing in his 80's and rollerblading in his 70's, dad lived life to the fullest.  He held on to a life he enjoyed and he also lived by his wife Gertrude's mantra "tie a knot and hang on"!  The time finally came where he couldn't hold on any more and he left this life to start a new one with all those who had passed before him.  There is surely a jubilant reunion going on in heaven today!  We will miss his smile, that lit up his whole aura, his appreciation of everyone and his determination and we have many years of memories to make us smile.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Life Is Good

        First things first.  Tomorrow is our Grandson Cole's 5th birthday... where has the time gone?


I see my kids read my blog.  Kent's comment on my "mother- in- law house" thought was, "sorry mom, not enough room in my backyard", but he was sure Cory could accommodate me as his back yard is MUCH bigger!  (Now we'll find out if Cory is reading the blog too :-)  )

We left St. Michaels and headed for Oxford last Sunday.  It ended up being a wet blustery couple of days  there on the hook but Gary got his chance to once again check out Cutts & Case boatyard, where they work pretty much exclusively on wood boats.  It is very, old school and should I say Quaint?  You can easily imagine it as it was 30 years ago....because it is like it was 30 years ago.  But interesting because of it.

We got a surprise tour of a Pacific Trawler when coming upon it anchored in Oxford. We stopped to ask what brand of boat it was and they invited us aboard.  Mary and Bill were heading back to their home in Rhode Island from Florida.  The boat was a 1975 Pilot house trawler that was in fabulous shape.  They said they had been going between the Tennessee River and Marathon for the past few years.  Now they were planning on spending the winter in Rhode Island (Brrrrrr) and then head to Canada for summers there the next three years.  
It's interesting to us to hear other peoples stories since to some people we seem to live a life style that is 'out of the norm', and granted it is, but talking to other boaters who spend a LOT of time aboard we are just a big happy family of normal people who love the water, love to explore and have chosen to pursue our dream!  

We have been waiting patiently (well I am never patient, but I try), for my crown (tooth, not Tiara), in Solomon's.  So we decided to stay in the East side of the Bay as long as possible.  It is a totally different vibe over here, not so busy.  We anchored in Trippe Creek off the Tred Avon River near Oxford for one night as it was a "new" anchorage that was highly rated.  Once again we were looking at lovely, not homes, but Estates. 

The following two Tidewater Mansions were my top choices.  They were definitely old wealth, not new wealth.  Nothing as gauche as a mother in law house....suites, dahling,suites...that also works for me :-)

We once again anchored in Leadenham Creek, (thanks Gwen & Walter for that tip) heading west since we would be crossing the bay to Solomon's on the first good weather day.  Leadenham has become our new favorite, even surpassing the Wye River north of St. Michaels.  As you get a little farther into the creek there is a beautiful rural area with big acreage farms and a lot of undeveloped waterfront.  Such a pleasant change from the 'I've gotta build it bigger' attitude that is taking over this area.  We were the only boat anchored on the creek for two days.  Then on Friday a few sailboats anchored in Little Owl Creek where we had anchored on our last stop here. 

               We look a lot closer to shore here than we actually were.

                                                         "Flood Zone Osprey Nest"

So we have to pass the time somehow and after reading a gazillion books I decided it would be a good time to get some work done.....groans abounded.

My theory being, when you live aboard you still have to find time for maintenance before things go from maintenance to a complete refinish....this was a perfect time to take care of some sun damaged panels that badly needed refinishing.  The forward cabin was getting to the "point of no return" since it gets a lot of sun from the deck hatch.  It took us a little over 2 days to refinish two doors and three sections of wall. The sanding made a huge mess but the result was worth it.


We had planned on crossing today, Sunday, but the wind forecast changed and yesterday appeared to be the best day.  It was perfect!  No wind, calm water AND we traveled with the tide instead of our usual against it.  We ended up getting some great fuel consumption numbers to add to the ships log.   We could see the white buildings at the Patuxent Navy Air Base near Solomon's from across the bay it was such a clear beautiful day.

I got so excited about the refinishing project that on the four hour trip across the bay I decided to tackle the next area needing some love....the companionway (which are the steps down into the 'saloon', pronounced 'salon'), silly I know but Hairdressers and couturiers have salons....sailors have's a guy thing.

I must be gaining some arm strength from all of my Yoga.  I was tired after four hours but my arms weren't fatigued like they used to get.  Yay for the Yoga!

Last night we anchored in Mill Creek off of the Patuxent River with, you got it six sailboats.  I often wonder what they think of us in the middle of the pack.  When we drop anchor they probably think oh NO, generator noise to come.  Since we got our awesome solar panels we seldom have to turn on Old Genny..........well except to vacuum up sanding dust!

                            '1st ( and only) mate'.. jobs... rinsing the sticky mud off of the anchor chain. I know, I'm                                                            lucky, I could be hauling up the anchor!

and my absolute FAVORITE  (definitely not)...Laundry...2 weeks worth

                     .....if only he'd get me an electric start for the motor I could be my own taxi.....

although laundry is a giant BORE-chore....I am making the best of it by getting this blog posted!!!!!!

So the dryers have buzzed, the blog is done, and the first coat of varnish will be done by the time my taxi arrives.  Life IS good!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Chesapeake Favorite

What can I say except St. Michaels Maryland on the Eastern Shore is still our very favorite stop on the Chesapeake....and by the crowds there this past weekend a favorite of everyone else on the Chesapeake. It is a gem, at once busy and yet quiet and serene.  It just depends on where you walk. Main street, which reminds us a lot of Charlevoix, Michigan, or the back street historic neighborhoods which are quiet and calming.
We spent three days here, this time anchored on San Domingo Creek, also known as "St. Michaels back door".  We have always anchored on the Miles River in the heart of the action but since we are experiencing new places we went, the "back way".
The green arrow is where we were anchored and the pink is the park where you can tie up your dinghy. The water to the right is the Miles river where we have usually anchored.

We got there on Friday morning and there was one other small Saturday night there were 17 boats!  We missed the action of the 'front door' but not the constant rocking your endure being in front row seats.  So it was a pleasant change (mantra, try new things still in play).  A longer dinghy ride and longer walk (we need that) and the birds were incredible in these calm quiet waters.

Canadian Geese were our constant companions...

along with the Osprey which is a Hawk also known as the "Fish Hawk" or "Sea Eagle". We have never seen so many Juvenile Osprey.  They have a high pitched chatter and are interesting to watch now that they are testing their wings and learning to hunt and survive without parents.  We saw at least two to four on a nest and unlike the adults who sit and watch from their nests the young birds we found rather skittish.  When you went by in the dinghy they started chattering and flew off the nest, but soon came back still afraid to get to far from home I guess.

Some interesting facts about the Osprey...

  • One Osprey who was tracked in 2008 flew over 2700 miles in 13 days from Martha's Vineyard to South America
  • After being nearly extinct, Osprey now number over 500,000 due to the ban on DDT pesticide and the construction of artificial nesting sites, as shown above, platforms on pilings in the shallow water.
  • Live fish account for 99% of the Osprey's diet and they hunt their prey in the shallow waters. We saw one fly over us and the home nest (showing off for his siblings or buddies, we assumed), with a big silvery fish in his talons, too cool)
Then there are the 'Watermen'...those who make their living "trolling" for crabs.  I was lucky enough to catch this Waterman running his line off the stern of our boat.

Here are the technicalities (as I know them, from acquired information, meaning I cannot be held responsible but think I may be somewhat accurate...)

They start the day with a long line on which they tie crab bait (usually chicken parts, crabs LOVE chicken, go figure....I think the cows at Chick Fila have done some awesome advertising there! cause they sure aren't putting meatballs on those lines!)

I digress.....

He has a long line with  his preferred bait.  These lines are tied to several buoys that he places over maybe a mile or so triangle.  The line falls to the bottom (usual depths about 8-12 ft, a lot of the Chesapeake is very shallow) and the crabs say "Wow Chow Time"!!  Then the Waterman, that sneaky guy comes along with his boat that has  a reel that pulls the line back up to the top of the water.
 The unsuspecting crab, who has been feasting on chicken....lets go of the chicken when he gets to the surface and the waterman, waiting with net in hand......

 Grabs that little sucker and plops him into the live box, while looking intently for his next victim!!
This operation goes on for many hours.  They start at dawn and go on until the early afternoon.  Back and forth, back and forth back and forth...etc.
This may sound heartless, but I will say that crabs are pretty tasty, they are the state food and symbol of Maryland and the Waterman has to make a living!

LOVE, LOVE, St. Michaels... It has a long history dating to1677. In the 1700's it became an important shipbuilding community and was also targeted by the British (unsuccessfully) in the war of 1812. As you know from our previous visits they have a wonderful Maritime Museum, probably the best on the Chesapeake.
San Domingo Creek..."back door" to St. Michaels proper.  Just a two block walk and you are on main street.

Note the crab door knocker....( I told you they are everywhere)  and the Circa 1872 sign.  This town is an historical gem.

Shoring up a classic


Methodist church on main street circa 1870's

I think I only saw one vacant storefront....highly unusual in our travels.  Then again with the Maritime Museum it is one of the highlights of the bay.  Most of the boats we saw were Maryland boats.

BOB Got to go to town today!!  He was as you can see excited...his tail was even wagging  (I think it may have been the vibration from the dinghy but REALLY it did wag!)

Then he met Abbie and he was in LOVE....
 I know you probably wonder what people think when Bob is in the picture but they love it!

This picture is too far off to be great but this is actually a cemetery on the lawn of a house if you look you can see the headstones and the black fence around the plot.  We also saw a small cemetery in town on a lot next to a house....I would have liked to get the story behind these....interesting....

Then we come to the St Michaels area"House with a House"....
See....Big House.....Little House
 at first we thought garage, but no they also had a garage behind the house.

and another one....

Believe me this was NOT a rarity....the new thing is the "house with a house"...I kept thinking...COOL...not a mother-in-law 'suite' but a WHOLE HOUSE!!