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Tuesday, August 5th, 2003
First Storm

In the sailing world you can never say absolutely when you will leave or arrive. There are many factors that can prohibit you from keeping a schedule. It may be a mechanical failure, unfavorable weather or boat preparation that takes longer than expected. In our case, it was a culmination of things that kept us from leaving Deltaville on Aug 3rd as we originally planned.

Once we left Fishing Bay Harbor Marina we knew that we would not stay in another marina for several months. There is a certain comfort that comes with being in a marina. Being hooked up to power is the best part because we can use our air conditioning, microwave and other appliances. We also have cable TV. Having a car was also a luxury as we were able to explore nearby towns and make trips to hardware/marine or grocery stores as needed. Laundry services and showers on the premises was another plus. When we leave here we will be on an anchor or mooring which means we will run off battery power. No more luxuries. Our refrigeration has an engine driven compressor which will keep it cool when the engine is on. This will require us to run the engine a couple times a day just to keep it cooled down. Our transportation will be our 10 foot hard bottom Avon dinghy with our 8 hp Nissan engine.

We met a lot of neat people while in Deltaville. We made it to the "All you can eat" Blue Crab festival sponsored by the volunteer fire department and mingled with the locals. We sat at picnic tables with piles of crab in front of us along with fresh corn on the cob and watermelon. We enjoyed our time with the staff at Fishing Bay Marina and our boat neighbors, Steve and Jane. Steve and Jane had their own fancy gas grill up near the pool and invited us to grill with them whenever we wanted. They were also great at answering our varnishing questions. We had a lot of fun with them.

We left Fishing Bay at 6:45 a.m. with intentions of sailing to the Solomon Islands approximately 60 miles north of here. An opposing current prevented us from making the mileage we expected so half way into our day we decided to continue past the Solomons and anchor south of Annapolis. The current would flow with us by evening allowing us to make good time.

Pierre’s friend George Tornell lives on the Chesapeake in Deale, MD. We phoned him and told him we would be sailing by at dusk and he may be able to look out and see us. At about 8:45 p.m. we see a large power boat heading right for us. We expect it may be a marine patrol boat and were pleasantly surprised when we see George waving from the deck. He had a friend drive him out so he could say hello and see the boat.

By 9:30 p.m. an angry, stormy sky loomed ahead. We had the VHF radio tuned to NOAA weather which reported severe thunderstorms with penny sized hail and 60 mph gusts. They advised people to stay indoors. We did not see any other boats in the area. This was going to be our first storm and it sounded like it was going to be a good one. We dropped all the sails and closed the hatches. There was lightening all around us. Pierre advised me to put the hand held VHF radio and our cell phone in the oven. If the boat is struck by lightening it is most likely that all electronics will be fried. The oven, being that it is a metal box, is supposed to protect electronics from lightening.

I put the boys to bed quickly so I would be free to help out. Pierre and I went on deck and could see the squall line approaching. He shut the engine down and we went down below to wait it out. I never would have thought to do this. I pictured us in our foul weather gear out in the cockpit holding on for dear life, dodging lightening bolts with rain and hail pelting our face. At least that’s how it is in the movies.

After about five minutes we poked our heads out the companion way and watched the storm. The wind was not near as strong as they reported and I never saw any hail. Just a lot of rain and lightening. The boys slept through the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 6th, 2003
Arriving In Annapolis

It was 1:30 a.m. when we arrived at Rhodes River, a nice, protected anchorage about 10 miles south of Annapolis. Navigating unknown waters can be hairy but doing it in the dark makes it even more so. Several of the marks have lights which flash at different time intervals. There may be a four second green light or a 2 second red light. These buoys are listed on the chart and that’s what helps us find our way. Some marks are not lit so we use a search light to find them. If you miss a mark there is a chance you can run aground or hit an obstacle. Pierre is a good navigator and makes it look a lot easier than it is.

It’s always fun to wake up in the morning after arriving somewhere at night to see where you are. This anchorage had residential houses on one side and undeveloped land on the other. It was a clear morning with blue skies as we pulled up our anchor at 10 a.m. and headed on to Annapolis.

We arrived in Annapolis around 1 p.m. and picked up a mooring just off the Naval Academy grounds. Annapolis is a favorite destination of many boaters. There were yachts of all sizes here. We were told that if we arrived on a weekend we probably wouldn’t be able to find a slip or mooring. A mooring is a floating ball which is attached to a sunken weight (i.e. cement slab, etc) and has a line which you attach to the cleat on your boat. They are usually maintained by marinas and here in Annapolis cost $25 a night. Moorings are a more secure option to anchoring.

Annapolis has lots of charm. It has a beautiful waterfront with lots of shops and restaurants. Water taxi’s shuttle people to different areas of town. A five minute dinghy ride put us at the public dock right in the center of town. We found a playground for the boys and then went for a nice dinner.

Thursday, August 7th, 2003
A Seat With A View

We took advantage of the plethora of marine supply stores here and took an inventory of what was in need of repair. Our wind speed indicator was not working which meant someone would need to climb to the top of the 63.5 foot mast and see what the problem was. I love climbing things so I volunteered. Pierre secured me to a boson's chair and I started climbing the mast steps. He had a line attached to the chair which was wound around a wench in case I fell. I was about three-fourths of the way up the mast when I looked down. I couldn’t believe how high I was. My heart rate rose rapidly and I started rethinking my decision to climb to the top. I could see to the top of the mast and noticed the wind cups were missing. I relayed this to Pierre who said “I thought you were going to the top.” I convinced myself that I was this far and I might as well continue. Once I reached the top I was more relaxed and enjoyed the view. I examined the wind vane and the area where the wind cups should have been. They must have fallen off. There was a B & G supplier here in town where we could get a new set.

A boat pulled in next to us today from Beaufort, S.C. I went over to say hello since this was near where our boat was kept before our trip. It turned out that Sam and Sharon were from Alpharetta, GA. They sold their houses and are now cruising indefinitely. Their kids are college aged and they hope to pick up odd jobs now and then so they can continue cruising.

Friday, August 8th, 2003
Up And At 'Em!

I’m awakened by the sounds of a loud male voice chanting one, two, three… through a megaphone. It is 5:30 a.m. I get up and can see the stadium lights at the Naval Academy. There are hundreds of midshipman dressed in blue shorts and white shirts jogging in formation and others on the stadium field doing calisthenics. I guess they’re awake and figure the rest of us should be also. This continued for two hours.

Getting an early wake up call wasn’t so bad since we planned on leaving early today. We would be sailing to Cape May, New Jersey, a 24 hour, approximately 125 mile jaunt through the C & D canal and across the Delaware Bay. We needed to reprovision before we left so I took a taxi to the nearest grocery store. I flew through the isles knowing the meter was running. The driver was amazed at the number of bags that I came out with in such a short amount of time.

We sailed out of Annapolis at 11 a.m. , passing the beautiful Coast Guard cutter The Eagle as it made its way into the harbor.

We arrived at the eastern end of the C & D canal by 9:30 p.m. The Delaware Bay greeted us with steep choppy waves due to a head on 10 knot wind and an opposing tide. Both of us need to stay awake to navigate since many of the marks (cans and nuns) are not illuminated. It is an eerie night on the Delaware Bay. The cloud cover has made for a dark night. The only light is looming off port from a Nuclear Power plant.


Tuesday, August 12th, 2003
First Calls For "Ralph"

I woke from my nap and came on deck for my 3 hour shift and everything had changed. The wind was gone and we had 6 foot swells hitting us from the side. The boat rocked left to right continuously, like a model boat in a wave machine. It wasn’t long before I was hanging over the side getting sick.

Usually keeping the main up will steady the boat but in our case since there was no wind, the main was banging violently from side to side so we had to drop it. The conditions remained this way for almost the entire trip. Even Pierre was seasick.

At the start of our second night, with both of us fatigued and dehydrated, we wondered why we were doing this. We thought “Why didn’t we buy an RV? Sailing is a lot of work.” It is tough when there are only two of us doing 3 hour shifts and having to tend to the boys. Thomas and Patrick never got seasick.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003
A Second Wind At Block Island

Block Island appeared out of the fog at 11 a.m. The Great Salt Pond is a cut in the center of the island where New Harbor is located. We drop anchor here amongst the sea of power and sailboats. The island is six miles long and three miles wide and has 20 miles of shoreline. It is a popular destination for boaters as it is just 12 miles south of the mainland and 26 miles from Newport, R.I.

We always seem to get a second wind when we get to a new port. We put the dinghy in the water and head to shore to explore. It’s a two mile walk to Old Harbor which is where the restaurants and shops are. The boys travel by scooter which makes for a quick trip to town. We walk out on a rock jetty and take in the sites while the boys play in the sand on the beach. A ferry arrives at a nearby dock depositing more tourists and various work vehicles. Most of the restaurants decks are full of people enjoying the ocean view.

Thursday, August 14th, 2003

We are awakened by the sound of a man in a boat calling out “Andiamo” repeatedly. I look out and see a large Italian man and a boy peddling their bakery wares in their small skiff. What a great way to make a living.

We would love to spend more time here but we need to leave for Cuttyhunk today. This will be a full day’s sail which will put us in good position to reach Nantucket by the 15th.

We arrived in Cuttyhunk around 5 p.m. Cuttyhunk is the westernmost island of a chain of islands extending off Cape Cod. We can see Martha’s Vineyard just off to the east. The island is mostly private. The boys and I took the dinghy ashore to a nearby beach. The water is cool but crystal clear. We had dinner on the boat and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

Cuttyhunk anchorage is a convenient stopover for people traveling to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. 

Friday, August 15th, 2003
Lost In Nantucket

We left Cuttyhunk in the morning and sailed up Vineyard Sound enjoying a clear, sunny day. There were boats cruising in all directions. After 6 hours we arrived in Nantucket. The harbor was the most crowded of any that I had seen. We radioed for a mooring and were told they were sold out. We heard the moorings here run $50-60 a night. We decided to anchor as we saw several other boats doing the same.

We were excited about seeing John Sussek, the best man at our wedding, his wife Lydia and their 7 month old baby Johnny. John’s parents have a home built in the mid-1700’s on the island. John sailed over from New York and has been here for 3 weeks.

Nantucket is an island with a lot of history. The cobblestone streets are flanked by colonial, Georgian and Greek Revival homes built in the 1700’s. John said the island has a population of 6,000 but in the summer it swells to 60,000. Main street resembled New York City at rush hour as loads of tourists pushed past each other and cars jockeyed for position on the narrow streets.

We met up with John, Lydia and adorable Johnny at his parents house on Main Street that evening. We were greeted with gifts for the boys as their birthday was the next day. We also picked up several packages, including gifts for the boys (sent by their grandparents and aunt) and our mail.

It was about 10 p.m. when we left the dinghy dock to head back to our boat. Neither of us had paid much attention to where we were anchored when we went to shore earlier and now we are faced with a dark harbor full of boats. We each have our own idea of where the boat is and after 45 minutes realize we are both wrong. The boys are asleep on my lap as we continue the search. We joke about what will happen if we can’t find our boat. John would sure be surprised if we appeared on his doorstep. Pierre suggests we try another area and I tell him he’s way off base. He heads that direction anyways and amazingly, our boat appears.

Saturday, August 16th, 2003
Shared Birthdays

The boys wake up with smiles on their faces knowing today is their 4th birthday.

They ripped open their gifts with the enthusiasm only a child can possess. Razor scooters, DVD’s, a bubble making wand and books were strewn about the cabin. They ate cupcakes and drank juice to their hearts content. It was a great day for the boys and their parents. 

Sunday, August 17th, 2003
Slip Sliding Away

It’s 11 p.m. when Pierre wakes me and says he thinks we’re dragging. There is a serious squall coming through and when we get on deck we see that we have dragged to within 60 feet of the boat behind us. The wind is gusting to almost 40 knots and we have to start the engine to keep from hitting the boat behind us. The skipper on that boat is on his bow sprit yelling to us to put the boat in gear. I reply we are in gear. The rain is coming down hard at an angle and the wind is howling. We see an unmanned sailboat come loose and ram into an adjacent boat. A women on that boat screams and then both boats begin to drag and end up entangled against the bow of a large (approx. 50 foot) catamaran. I’m relaying the play by play to Pierre as he is working to keep our boat into the wind so we don’t have the same fate.

By 1 a.m. the wind subsides. We picked our anchor up and reposition. Just goes to show you that even our boat with heavy ground tackle (all chain), can have trouble, depending on the holding ground and wind situation. The boys slept through the whole episode.

Monday, August 18th, 2003
Local Knowledge - Maine

We got lucky last night as several boats were damaged during the storm. Pierre went over and talked with the skipper of the boat we almost hit and they ended up talking for a couple hours. The man had done a lot of sailing with his teenage son and gave us a lot of good information about cruising in Maine.

We planned to get an early start in the morning for Provincetown in Cape Cod. John, Lydia, baby Johnny and their friend Debbie were also leaving in the morning to make their way back to New York. This would be their first time sailing long distance with Johnny. John treated us to a nice dinner on the waterfront and then we went back to the boat to get ready to sail in the morning.

Tuesday, August 19th, 2003
Hanging Loose

It was 6 a.m. when we pulled up the hook and headed out of the harbor. As we were motoring down the channel, Pierre looked back and saw our dinghy floating away from our boat. We had decided to drag it behind the boat and it must have come loose. Luckily he saw it when he did so we were able to retrieve it easily.

Our motor sail to Provincetown was going well until Pierre noticed that the engine seemed to be vibrating more than normal. He shut it down to investigate and discovered that one side of the alternator bracket was cracked and detached from the engine. One of the engine mounts had also loosened. He was also worried about the propeller shaft backing out of the coupling because this had happened before on the delivery from Florida to South Carolina after we had purchased the boat. Ah, the vicissitudes of boating.

Our sails were up but there was no wind as we bobbed off the Cape Cod coast for about two hours while Pierre worked on the engine. As we were floating along I saw a large splash off in the distance and within minutes a pod of whales was swimming past us. I have never seen a whale in the wild before and I was thrilled to have such a great view. When the whales surfaced they bellowed like a lion. Seagulls surrounded the head of the whale as it floated on the surface for several minutes. A couple of the whales became airborne, just like at Sea World. The boys were attentive for a little while but then went back to playing with their toys. It was quite a show and I enjoyed every minute. I wanted to get closer to get a good photo but Pierre said it was more important to fix the engine than chase down whales so I missed my photo op although I did get a few on video.

Pierre hose clamped the alternator and tightened the engine mount bolts which enabled us to run the engine but at lower rpm’s to be safe. Soon the wind picked up and we were able to sail. Pierre’s friend Dave Young and family were vacationing in Truro on Cape Cod and we were happy to have a chance to see them since they live in San Francisco and it has been 6 years since we’ve been together.

Pierre gave Dave a call as we were sailing up the coast and they went out to the Highland light house and waved to us as we were sailing by. It was 6:30 p.m. when we saw them. I thought we had only a couple hours of sailing left but a strong opposing current slowed us down and we didn’t make it to Provincetown until 12:30 a.m.

Wednesday, August 20th, 2003
Provincetown's Finest

Provincetown is a place like no other. Drag queens stroll the streets with Boston tourists and the conservative Portuguese locals. This place is a haven for the Gay community so a night’s entertainment can be had sitting on Commercial street watching the faces of the tourists as the “Hat sisters”, in their red, flowered dresses with matching wide brim hats and backless red heeled shoes draw attention with their attire and loud high pitched cackle. What’s different about these sisters is that they are large men with mustaches and hairy legs who look like twins. They are just a piece of the human artwork in this place.

Dave, Wendy and the kids (Charlotte 9, Oliver 6 and Margot 4) picked us up and we went back to their house for an afternoon at the beach. The boys were excited to have other children to play with. The water was cool but refreshing. After a playful afternoon we returned to their house and enjoyed a delicious lobster dinner with steamers and Mojito’s. It was nice to get off the boat, relax and be with friends.

Thursday, August 21st, 2003
Carnival In Provincetown

We spent the day out on our boat with Dave and his family. The kids had fun swimming off the boat and Thomas and Patrick enjoyed showing off their toys.

It was carnival week in Provincetown and tonight was the big parade. As we walked down the sidewalk towards town I mentioned to Pierre that this was probably going to be a different parade. At that moment a man walking in front of us dressed in a skirt with no shirt and a pair of earrings turned around and said it would be an experience we wouldn’t forget. 



He was right. The parade was hilarious. Men in fish net stockings with colorful boas walked the streets. Elaborate floats with scantly clad men throwing candy and beads entertained the crowds. Thomas and Patrick were only concerned about catching the candy and getting beads. It was quite a night.

August 22-24th, 2003
Wind Delay

Pierre took Dave and family to the airport Friday and they let us use their rental car the rest of the day. This was great as we were able to tour around Cape Cod and do a little shopping.

We were ready to leave P-town by the weekend but a persistent NW wind kept us from leaving. Our plan was to sail either to Marblehead or straight to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We were waiting for a SW wind which finally came on Monday. We topped off our water and fuel.

Monday, August 25th
To Marblehead

We motored out of P-Town at 8 a.m. and had an uneventful trip up to Marblehead, arriving around 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2003
Ashore In Marblehead

Marblehead is a haven for cruising and racing boats. The harbor offers views of elaborate mansions on Marblehead neck and its quaint historic town. The harbor is small and loaded with boats on moorings. Anchoring is not allowed here. Luckily, we were able to pick up a mooring through the Boston Yacht Club for $25 a night.

I was excited to be here because my great Aunt Priscilla lives in Danvers which is just 20 minutes away. The boys and I planned to spend the day with her and Pierre needed to do some work on the engine. The raw water engine cooling pump needed to be rebuilt and this was a good place for repair work. He spent the day taking that off the engine and getting it to a repair shop. We will wait to get the alternator bracket repaired in Portsmouth. The boys and I spent a relaxing day with Aunt Priscilla. Pierre caught up with us for dinner where Priscilla treated us to a lobster and steamers dinner. We cooked the lobsters at her house. It was a special treat being here and having a wonderful dinner together.

By the time we finished dinner we were so tired that we accepted Priscilla’s offer to spend the night. It felt so good to have a break from the boating life.

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003
Peanut Butter vs Newburg

Pierre went back to the boat around noon and the boys and I stayed at the house. I did laundry, gave the boys a haircut and chilled. It was nice for Pierre to have the opportunity to work on the boat without all of us on board.

We decided to stay one more day. This was great because it meant we could spend another night with Aunt Priscilla. Pierre stayed on the boat and installed the rebuilt water pump and had a wonderful peanut butter sandwich for dinner. A man of simple tastes. The boys and I enjoyed our time at the house and were treated to seafood Newburg at a local restaurant by Aunt Priscilla.

Thursday, August 28th, 2003
Gloucester, Home of the Andrea Gale

We met up with Pierre on the boat around noon. It was nice to know we only had a short trip to Gloucester. We arrived in Gloucester before sunset and made it into town for a picnic and concert in the park overlooking the harbor.

Gloucester has been a fishing town for centuries and was the home port of the Andrea Gale, the fishing boat that perished in the book The Perfect Storm.

Friday, August 29th, 2003
Fighting The Current

We left Gloucester at 5 a.m. for our trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We needed to get an early start because we were going to meet up with Nick Jenkins, a lobster fisherman friend of Pierre’s. Nick manages a fleet of lobster boats in Portsmouth and said his master engineer may be able to help us with our alternator problem.

We were tied up to Nick’s commercial fishing dock by 12:30 p.m. Todd, the engineer, evaluated our problem and said we would need a new bracket rather than try to weld the original. Pierre ordered the part but because of the holiday weekend we weren’t sure when it would arrive.

Nick found a mooring for us about a mile down the river from him. He also gave us his second car to use while we were in town. We learned the hard way that the Piscataqua River has the third strongest rip tide in the country. We hopped in the dinghy to meet Nick at the Great Bay marina and barely moved against the current with our engine floored. The current runs more than 4 knots on the ebb. The river divides Portsmouth from Kittery, Maine.

Nick took us back to his work and gave us a tour of the lobster holding tanks. There were thousands of lobsters in these tanks. Nick pulled out one that weighed almost 7 lbs. He said they ship them all over the country. That day they had shipped 30,000 lbs.

He picked out a bunch of lobster for our dinner that night, including two small ones for the boys. We went back to his house and had a terrific dinner with Nick and his parents. 

August 30-31st, 2003
Portsmouth Tour

We spent the weekend touring Portsmouth. We had great weather – 70’s during the day and 60’s at night. Nick gave us a tour of the area on his boat on Sunday. It was a fun weekend