Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chesapeake Bay Run

The best Chesapeake Bay Sailing. Sunrise as we head south.
We have sailed the Chesapeake Bay since 1986 and we never tire of the beauty and diversity the Bay presents to sailors trying to cover the 150+ miles in a few days. Lucky for us, this was one of the best runs down the bay in many years. In past years, we have had waves crashing over the bow with spray going into the windshields and you just pray for it to end. This time, it was so lovely, so calm, so flat, with beautiful sunsets, spectacular sunrises, full moonsets and interesting commercial ship traffic.

When in transit mode, we try to run about 50 miles a day. This would be 3 days down the bay to Norfolk from Rock Hall, MD just above Annapolis. This time we actually took 4 days to run the bay. We had some sailing, lots of motoring, but calm seas, so we will take it.

4 Days down the Chesapeake Bay (165 nm)

  1. Rock Hall, MD to Annapolis, MD 16 nm (visit our boat buddies, Eric and Patricia)
  2. Annapolis, MD to Solomon's Island, MD 42 nm (anchor off Calvert Maritime Museum)
  3. Solomons, MD to Jackson Creek, VA 53 nm (anchor and enjoy a beautiful sunset)
  4. Jackson Creek, VA to Portsmouth, VA 54 nm (dock in the South Ferry basin, explore the city)

Hayden sailing wing on wing heading south on the Chesapeke Bay
Winds were from the NORTH....the course was we sailed downwind wing on wing as much as we could. BUT...when the SOG (Speed Over Ground) drops below 3 knots, we motor sail or motor. We use 3 knots as our point of decision. We love to sail, and we will always sail if we can, but if our speed is 3 knots or less and we have 50 nm to cover, we will motor.

Norfolk, VA Naval Base and Shipyards

Completing the southbound run of the Chesapeake Bay sends you into the Elizabeth River, home to one of USA's largest Naval Bases and shipyards. Passing aircraft carriers and observing our military makes you pause and reflect. We are so thankful for our military and the freedom we all enjoy because of their service. You cannot sail past here and not think of them. Thank you...

Portsmouth, VA South Ferry Basin
NOTE: Coffee Kiosk right there (blue peaked roof)

Completing the trip, we always dock at the Portsmouth Ferry Basins and enjoy walking the town. We enjoy the Commodore Dinner Theater, Bier Garden, Artisan Bakery, the friendly Mile Marker Zero Marine Store and most of all, the Starboard Coffee Kiosk right at the docks! Portsmouth is a must stop location and we always enjoy a full day or two here.

Here are the best photos from the trip ( I shot 87 photos today)

Interesting Italian Ship passes close by. Note the bow wave well in front...
that is the underwater bow bulb projecting well forward of the bow.
This ship is doing 15 knots!

IP350 KISMET sailing their spinnaker southbound
Nice job, Jim and Laurie!

Sunset at anchor during our dinner...beautiful Jackson Creek,
Deltaville, VA

WOLF TRAP LIGHTHOUSE, now you know you are moving south

Tugboat SARAH DANN pushing two barges up to Baltimore
Beautiful paint colors

Thank you....our miltary practicing landings on an Aircraft Carrier!

Shipping containers, those are tractor trailer boxes of imported goods being off loaded

OH NO....this Navy ship was listing.....just kidding :-)
Chesapeake Bay....CHECK....done....onto the ICW, Intracoastal Waterway mile marker ZERO is right here. Now the trip to Florida and the Bahamas takes on a new challenge. Bridges, hundreds of them to navigate, locks, narrow rivers, swamps, and more. FUN.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Southbound 2012...We R OUT

Year to explore the BAHAMAS some more.
We did it! We left the docks on time!
OMG...why it so much work preparing to depart on a sailboat for a winter cruise of 8 months to the Bahamas? It seems like it should be no more effort than simply packing your bags for a two week vacation, but it is NOT, it is much more!

Imagine trying to buy almost all the food, paper products, cereals, canned goods, snacks, drinks and wine you plan to consume for the next 8 months. ..."We need these ....."..."We need to fix this"....."We need to buy more...   "Remember to bring".....and so on. Next thing you know, you are stuck in this endless loop feeling locked to the dock. You feel as if you can't possibly be ready, you will never be ready, you have too much to do. This loop needs to be BROKEN by simply setting a date for departure and then busting your tail to get it all done and get off the dock. JUST LEAVE, get going, you can almost always fix it later or buy it down the road.

A well stored boat. 10+ dock carts of stuff all
stored and put away. Island Packets hold a lot!
Well, that is what we did. Our boat was in the parking lot just 10 days ago. Within 24 hours after launching, we had guests for 3 days. Lucky for us, they are great friends and helped us get the boat ready for our sail. Provisions were bought and stowed, oil and fuel filters changed, systems all checked and the boat washed and cleaned up. We made a final run to home to check in with a few doctors and our house sitter, then back to the boat for departure. This process is hectic, stressful, and a ton of work, but it is so incredibly rewarding once you are under way!

The TRIP LOG is reset to ZERO
last year we logged 3,514+ nautical miles!
Underway on a coastal cruising sailboat can be very easy. Each person stands a one hour watch driving and watching the waterway. While off watch, you are free to read, write, and surf the web, pay bills, watch the stock market, send emails and write blog posts like this. Our normal transit day is 8-10 hours of running at 6 knots. This will push the boat about 50 miles. Do this for 20 days and you cover 1,000 miles, or Maryland to Florida. Along the way on this coastal trip, you anchor in some beautiful towns and walk, and explore the area. Again, life on a cruising sailboat doing coastal trips is really fun. It simply takes time and we have the time!

So, we are off the dock and we welcome you along for the ride. We will try to post reflections and insights and photos of the trip, sharing with you the life we are so lucky to be living. We are thankful for our health and our contentment....

Here are some photos of the start of our know I love to take photos...

We had a fun rendezvous with the "CALIFORNIA KIDS," friends we
met in Miami and sailed to the Bahamas with last year,
Cary and Tom of IP 37 Dragon's Toy.
Departing our HOME...the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
near Annapolis, MD

Sailing into Annapolis, we passed WOODWIND,
the mightly wooden schooner of Annapolis

Radeen arrives shore via OUR CAR....the inflatable boat down in the water.
This is our vehicle for the next 8 months. It is how we get to shore.

Patricia and Radeen. We enjoyed dinner with our boat buddies
Eric and Pat of IP-460 Cutter Loose. Like Dragon's Toy, they are Caribbean bound!

Eric and Hayden sharing dinner at the Boatyard Grille's
Full Moon Party in Eastport, MD.

The best way to WINTERIZE your boat....HEAD SOUTH
at 180 degrees and southbound we are for the next month+

Nothing like arriving Solomons and having the Wm. B. Tennison pass by
on a tour from the Calvert Marine Museum. 
SO....welcome to our travels south back into the Abacos and maybe into the Exumas. Thank you again for following along.

NOTE: Please leave us comments on the blog. They are emailed to us immediatly and we love to hear from our friends.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Living Contrast: House vs. Boat

Our Passive Solar Home, endless power, water and comfort
Left to the care of our Friend and House Sitter...Edward
Here we are moving out of our home and anticipating the accompanying change in perspective. Life on "land" as "dirt dwellers" vs. life on a "cruising sailboat" is interesting to compare. Now with one year of cruising behind us and with the second one on the door step, we can reflect and compare these two worlds.

Imagine you and your wife living on five gallons of water a day! That would be for showers, dishes, flushes, and boat washing....yup....5 gallons a day is our conservative usage and, when we splurge, we let it rip and use 7 to 8 gallons a day for the two of us. In our home, we have shower heads that flow at 5 gallons per minute! Take a 10 minute shower are  you have used 50 gallons of water! In two showers, our boat would be OUT of water. When living in a house, when do you ever think about running water? NEVER, it is endless!

Living on a sailboat at anchor in the calm
At home, the freezer is kept at zero degrees and the refrigerator is kept at 38 degrees. The water heater is holding 80 gallons of water at 140 degrees ready for anyone to use at anytime. Lights are left on, computer networks are up and running, printers are left on, cable TV boxes, night lights, outdoor lights, and deck lights are all left on for effects and for convenience. WHY? Because POWER is endless. When do you ever think about electricity usage in a home? NEVER. On a boat, we use 12 volt power, imagine living in your car and everything you run must plug into a cigarette lighter outlet. I challenge you to think about that and try it for one day.

2700 square feet is a lot of living area and allows plenty of room for every one to have "their own space." Kitchen counters and the bar area flow into the open and well light living space. The dining room table seats 6 for dinner in actual chairs with backs, imagine that! Bedrooms have regular doors and closets for HANGING CLOTHES. Bathrooms are full size with showers one can actually walk into and close off. Toilets have a very unique feature with a flush handle and running WATER! What a concept. Compare this to living in the space of a walk in closet or the space of a small bedroom and you will begin to see the contrast.

Island Spirit sailing a nice breeze under autopilot

There is something very magical about the FREEDOM cruising provides. Imagine, waking up in an isolated creek, on anchor, hearing the birds as you proceed topside with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. On deck, you take in the sunrise or the early morning mist on the water as you imagine the day ahead. It is peaceful, quiet, calm, and relaxing. The two of you prepare a healthy breakfast and enjoy it while you plan your next passage or land side explorations. Once underway by sailboat, it is very beautiful; you may be traversing a salt marsh among great blue herons, or setting sails offshore for the next island get-a-way. There is no AM rush hour, no schedule, no beeping horns, no rapidly talking TV news caster or radio shock jock. There is peace and reflection. Calm discussions and planning. Listening and communicating. Dreaming and enjoying. LIVING...and when you drop anchor off a beautiful sand beach with turquoise waters, put on your snorkel mask and fins, and swim with tropical fish, you will know WHY you sail, why you left the house behind and why you left the rat race. There is no better life for us than exploring, discovering, and traveling with your best friend on a cruising sailboat....NONE...

SO LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN we sail to the Bahamas...

P.S. We will NOT miss the SNOW in the Northeast...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gene and Dianne

Island Spirit gets relaunched for 2012...Bahamas bound
We completed the helm install and ran Island Spirit out the creek for a sea trial. When all systems checked out, it was back to our home dock to clean up the boat and prepare for good friends Dianne and Gene to visit.

The boat was really dirty and a real mess as is common when storing your boat in the yard for a month and tearing apart major systems for repair. Lucky for us, it rained and stormed our first day back in the water so we had 24 hours to prepare the boat.

Dianne and Gene enjoy happy hour on Island Spirit

Dianne and Gene are like family, Hayden spent his teaching career with Dianne and Gene was a Technology Ed teacher like Hayden. We have sailed the Caribbean together and taken cruises and land vacations together. So, they would understand that the boat was a wreck, there were jobs still to do, and that we would most likely just do a day sail.

24 hours after launch, we are getting ready to travel

So, our 2012 Bahamas run began with this wonderful visit with good friends. We enjoyed cocktail hours, sailing and anchoring out in the creek for a leisurely lunch. Getting Island Spirit back into service is a lot of work, but cruising and sailing with friends is as good as it gets. Dianne and Gene are great boat guests and it is always easy to spend time onboard with friends that know how to live on a boat. Thank you, Dianne and Gene, for your help and for kicking off our 2012 season with a great time..

Photos of the visit...

Notice the GREAT Island Spirit cocktail napkins!
A gift from Amy and Brian....Thank you!
Gene is very determined as he sets the main sail

The Galley BEFORE as we begin to load the frig

The galley AFTER and how it normally looks

Gene helped to launched the AB 10VL, so we had to take it for a 25 mph spin out the creek.
Gene was amazed at the speed of a 15 hp Yamaha...hold on!

Hayden and Radeen enjoying happy hour

Great friends and long time teaching buddies...this is what 85+  years of collective public school teaching service looks like! We had great we are all onto other adventures....

Check it out...A BLIMP from the US .NAVY. How cool is that? 

Dianne takes the helm with ease, no problem, she has been here before 
Sunsert to the PORT BOW....means one is time to sail to the BAHAMAS!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Haul Out 2012

Radeen under the bow of Island Spirit

Island Spirit gets a lift out of the water at Haven Harbour Marina in Rock Hall, MD, for the first time since June 2011. She has been in the water for 15 months so it was time to clean her up and get ready for her second trip to the Bahamas! Hauling out is a big deal and it also represents a lot of work. Once "on the hard," the term for being in the parking lot, the work can begin. Imagine waxing a tractor trailer and you can begin to feel the pain your arms and shoulders will soon be put through. You need a lot of Advil and other pain killers in order to sleep after a full day of holding a buffer at arm's length and moving it up and down and side to side. There is no easy way to accomplish this; you simply must get up on that platform and get it done!

Hayden waxing the boat via a ladder scaffolding

After waxing the beast, you then get the pleasure of rolling heavy, nearly SOLID copper-laden paint with a paint roller that is on the end of a broom stick. Yes, you keep the paint roller 4+ feet away from your body, which means you contort into all kinds of angles just to hold up the copper-filled roller and press it UP under the curved hull. Sounds easy, right? Well, next year or the next time we paint, come on down and we will LET YOU have a try at painting the bottom of the boat. I am not sure which is more difficult, rolling the bottom with Trinidad Paint (the highest copper paint on the planet), or holding a buffer at full arm's length. Each of these arduous tasks is what owning a cruising sailboat is all about. Lucky for most, this ritual is performed every one or two years, so it is forgotten about soon after the boat is back in the water!

Radeen helps paint the bottom, notice the stylish
cover ups!......nice!
Team Island Spirit is a TRUE team and always has been. We work on these jobs together with each of us doing our own various tasks. Yes, it would be much easier to simply write a check for this work, but the bid on waxing was $850.00 and the bottom paint was $1,000, so we don't mind doing it ourselves to save these fees. The real beauty is that we are NOT working, we are retired, and we have the time to do this prep work. All the while, we are dreaming about and talking about all the places we will soon travel to via this wonderful boat.

Living the "cruising life" has been a dream and it is far better than expected. We have now spent one full year living our lifetime dream and we are looking forward to the next year. These challenges and jobs of being on the hard are a small price to pay for a year of cruising south. Bahamas, here we come.....

Here are some various photos of the yard work...

The Haven Harbour Marina travel lift picks up the 17,500 lbs with ease.

Job one....a marina employee power washes the bottom to remove slime and barnacles.

The travel lift is driven across the parking lot via a WIRELESS REMOTE CONTROL.
Very cool to see. It is like a large video game!

Radeen always scrapes the bottom of the keel. She hates barnacles there, or anywhere.

Service job #1, remove the helm steering system for service.
Edson Marine wanted to see this helm after 12,000 miles.

We installed this we removed it.
2.5 hrs to remove the entire steering system and shifter mechanism.

Bottom paint on day one. Day two, jack stands moved forward so we can paint those patches.

Trinidad Paint by Pettit, does this look like $300 per gallon? Copper has gone up!
Our boat needs 2 gallons of paint to coat the bottom.

To service the prop, we sanded it clean and re-coated it with 2-step Speed Prop.

Next, we sanded and repainted the boot stripe using a $5.99 can of Krylon Fusion Spray Paint in Navy.

Jobs COMPLETED in 4.5 days, time to go home and rest....

Next move, reinstall the Edson CD-i helm and below-decks steering arms, reconnect the shifter and throttle cables and get this girl launched, back in the water where she belongs. After that, share the joy with some good friends and load up, because we are SOUTH BOUND very sooooooon. Year #2 will officially begin at the end of this month. BAHAMAS, HERE WE COME......