Calm Days Before the “Storm”: 9/24 – 10/7

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Oh give me a home where the paddle boards roam and the waters are calm all day; Where seldom is heard, “Oh crap I fell in”, and the SeaDoos don’t come out and play.

Yes, we know a place like that; Harness Creek off the South River next to Quiet Waters Park. We’d anchored there for nearly a week 5 years ago for weather and to get Ms. Ortolan’s screecher repaired after Russ lost the race with s/v Pride of Baltimore off New Jersey.🙂

And first off a few good boat pics as we headed down the Bay.

Time to clean

Time to clean. Too messy and LOUD to do at the dock.

We keep out of the channel, which is for the big ships, but at one point just before I took this shot, it sure looked like we’d be meeting up head on. The day was overcast and not very pleasant so we were surprised to find lots of local boats anchored in Harness Creek.

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft. Prometheus Leader – probably a car carrier, left a negligible wake. Good boy

Sunday was sorta warm and quiet pleasant so why not practice? In the top part of the photo you can see the yellow rental kayaks, (SUPs too) at the floating dock. It’s where you can leave your dinghy to walk through the park.

Looking good!!

Looking good!!

The resident blue heron kept me busy but I missed a good in-flight shot.dsc04099-800x584

Monday brought breezy and a chance of showers but we bravely walked through the park headed for lunch at Main Ingredient, another great dining spot only one mile away.

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Because Main Ingredient also caters, the dessert offerings are extensive and from our booth I could hear them calling out to us. The Andes (Mint) chocolate multi-layer cake served us for two dinner desserts.  We share.🙂

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Next stop Solomons, where we’d re-connect with our friends Mike & Ann of Traveling Soul, now also owners of a beautiful condo unit. Spot was more active than we usually have seen her, as she’s got more leg room (even though Traveling Soul is a large Defever motoryacht) and an attentive audience.

Spot is mezmerized by the garbage disposal

Spot is fascinated by the garbage disposal, but you should have seen her with the Soda Stream!

Do you know you can grow more romaine lettuce from the ends?  Ann told me you just do like in the photo below and soon you will have more for your money. Nice uh?

The lettuce whisperer

The lettuce whisperer: growing more from the bottom hearts

We were invited not only for dinner and Vodka & Tonics made with Ann’s magical formula homemade tonic, but to do a load of laundry. I know some of you can’t imagine how great that was, but it was pretty special.

My best new laundry helper

My best new laundry helper

We got to spend three nights at Calvert Marina (same place as this past June), but they were booked for the weekend due to the upcoming Krogen Rendezvous and a Defever Rendezvous after that. Rain was the word, especially Wednesday which of course was errand day. Ann took me to shop and we both got some things off our lists.

After leaving the dock we moved less than 1/8 mile up Back Creek to anchor. The wind was still honkin’ in the Bay although we felt little all tucked in, and rain came and went through Saturday evening. During our Solomons stay the wind display function on our wireless weather station crapped out. I don’t think you will be surprised to learn that the one year warranty recently passed.

The last hurrah of a line of scattered heavy rain. Was so narrow you could see brightness beyond.


Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann's Solomons Landing condo

Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann’s Solomons Landing condo complex.

Early on during our Solomons stay we began reading about Tropical Storm / Hurricane Matthew. The models disagreed, the spaghetti strands fanned out like octopus tentacles and we devised several plans, each based on severity and guestimate location of the storm as it headed up this way.

Top Rack was a planned stop for diesel and dining but they’d kick us out if a hurricane warning was in effect, so we had to cancel. I mean did we want to just assume we could find room at a protected marina close by? Not many choices for those.

One option was to head way up the Potomac as far in as possible; either find an acceptable anchorage or protected marina with floating docks.

One suggested marina could only offer us the outside of a T head, so even though it was a floating dock we declined and kept calling.

Then I came across Sunset Boating Center in Hampton, VA. Up the Hampton River and down a dead end canal, it met all our criteria.

We arrived on Monday Oct 3, well ahead of the very slow moving hurricane. The NE Bay winds were forecast to pick up mid week so why endure a rough trip when we can avoid it?

Never visited Hampton before, so a few days of settled weather allowed us to explore by dinghy and by land.

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Over by the side street entrance sits the Barking Dog where we ate dinner. Casual atmosphere as you can see. Hot dogs, several types of sausage grinders are menu’s focus but they also make a fantastic crab cake-super thick and virtually all crab. Hush puppies were great too.

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog. Our waitress was an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10!

Tuesday morning we walked approximately 1/2 mile to a nearby Food Lion. At the checkout the woman ahead of us pegged us for boaters (lugging a cooler bag) and offered us a ride back. She told us of a great dining spot downtown, “next to Goodys” with pizza, tapas and more. She even gave us her name and phone number should we need anything.

After stashing the groceries we head for downtown and well what do you know? we stumble (ya right) upon a doughnut place. If you dinghy up the Hampton River to Hampton Public Piers there’s a place to tie up and walk one block to downtown Hampton. The area is small but has many restaurants, a few gift shops, the Air & Space Museum Hampton History Museum, water access, tour boats and a restored carousel.

We easily scout out the dounut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

We easily scout out the donut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

Intersection of Queen & King

Intersection of Queen & King

We find Goodys and next door is Venture. (hidden behind the trees)  The posted cocktail menu was all we needed to lure us in. Priced to entice with Classic and Crafted Cocktails averaging $7, you can see below these were not eensy teensy drinks.

One size crafted pizzas made with their own dough, sandwiches, salads and seafood; tapas items served starting at 4pm. But what are Tots? Our waitress- phenomenal- plopped down this free sample. Cook potatoes and skins, add just the right amount of seasoning, spread in a jelly roll pan, chill, cut into small squares and fry em up fresh!!  Served with a side of spicy mayo, they were out of this world delicious. Some entrees are served with a side of Tots but you can also order them as an appetizer.

Venture's signature Tots- to die for

Venture’s signature Tots- to die for

Another great spot with a view! Excellent menu and cocktails too!!

Another great spot with a view!


This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection

This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection


Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy, Watch Hill and Greenport (especially)

Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy (CT), Watch Hill (RI) and Greenport (NY) (especially)

Each day small boats arrived to be hauled out and placed into rack storage. We had a front row view. The only other transient boat here was the blue sailboat you can see a bit of in the below photo.

Lifting up and into storage building

Lifting up and into storage building

Matthew was due to be at its closest to us sometime Saturday night-ish, and Friday’s weather was pleasant so why not one more trip into town? This time we walked and before ending up at Venture for an early dinner, we popped into the Hampton History Museum for a side of culture.

At this point any of our considered options would have been fine, even Top Rack but we were happy with Sunset as many days in a slip can add up those $$$$ and this place was “B2G1F” and only $1/night for 30amp power (only had 30amp). It’s a smaller boat place lacking nice scenery; even across the water is a huge barge. But the power was great; many places cause our ground fault warning to sound, the wi-fi worked well and we could easily get to downtown,groceries, pharmacies and yes, ok doughnuts!

Thank you to all who checked on us. :-)   Next up; fun times during and after Matthew.



Havre de Grace

Approaching Havre de Grace

Approaching Havre de Grace

We’d always zoomed through the upper Chesapeake and now it was time to explore a new place, Havre de Grace at the mouth of the Susquehanna River. The Susquehanna is what makes the Bay the Bay, providing over half of its fresh water. One of the oldest rivers in the WORLD, it flows for 464 miles from New York, to PA then into MD. The mouth is small near Havre de Grace and dams are used to control the water flow during rainy times and spring flooding.

But the question is- how do you pronounce Havre de Grace??  If you say Haevre de Grace (long A sound), with a French pronunciation of Havre, then you are technically accurate but you will not be mistaken for a local. According to Southern Living’s extensive research into the correct pronunciation of “southern” city names, the city’s name gets all run together with the “de” sounding like “t”. So you say it,  “Haverty Grace”.  Bet you feel better knowing this.

The town-sized city of less than 14,000 offers a walkable downtown area, a small maritime museum, a duck decoy museum, a boardwalk and the very popular Bomboys Ice Cream mega-parlor with their large fudge and candy shop right across the street. Yes to ice-cream, no to candy shop.

We choose Tidewater Marina because not only did they have fuel, they had room for us. Billy was fun at the gas dock and he found us an easy side tie dock in their basin furthest away from the “more active” rack storage small boat basin.

We exited (on foot) the marina (a gated secure fenced in place) and turned left to head toward the point where we’d spotted the little lighthouse. The Maritime museum was just my size and priced to entice, so in we went.


Havre de Grace's First Family -John & elizabeth Rodgers

Havre de Grace’s First Family -John & Elizabeth Rodgers. Looks like the house still stands.

We always wonder about the process of crabbing, fish-trapping, oystering and lobstering and how the various nets, traps, etc look below the surface. The below was informative and we learned something new. Retention is another thing.🙂

A peek at "below the floats"

A peek at “below the floats” of gillnetting.


Benj- this one's for you

Benj- this one’s for you. Some may recall the 3 sheep Benj raised a few summers ago.

North Washington St is where the action is, if you can call it that. The Vineyard Wine Bar left no doubt that they were highly rated and it looked enticing, if not a skosh out of place in this town, er city. But well, you know us and if there’s donuts around we point in that direction. Golls Bakery; talk about old fashioned. More like out of the Twilight Zone of the 60s/70s era. Family owned and operated since 1930, the place looked like not much had changed in many years, including the prices.

Excellent tradional bakery in Havre de Grace

Excellent traditional bakery in Havre de Grace

We didn’t think much would be available at 4pm and the current owner’s nephew assured us Saturday morning would bring a huge assortment of temptations. With a nod to Terminator our “we’ll be back” must have been believable.


Clever name for a very interesting store

Clever name for a very interesting store

The Rodgers home survived the 1813 burning of Havre de Grace. Dating from 1787, this is the town's oldest documented structure.

The Rodgers home survived the 1813 burning of Havre de Grace. Dating from 1787, this is the town’s oldest documented structure.

We found the Rodgers home across from Laurrapin, our selected dinner spot on N.Washington. They wisely/kindly defined the word, and we both agreed while memorable, it didn’t quite reach the laurrapin-ness of Spoon River in Belhaven, NC.


Dinner- Farm to Fork Washington St

Dinner- Farm to Fork on N. Washington St

Appetizers and entrees were mostly reasonably priced as were the creative cocktails. As you can see we couldn’t resist a delectable dessert, or two. The cheesecake was not your run-of-the-mill kind, but a goat cheese cake. A bit of tang as expected and very tasty. I still remain a fan of the artery clogging heavy New York cheesecake.🙂 Some day I will be able to make one again.

The flourless choc cake was akin to solidified hot fudge sauce- yummy

The flourless choc cake was akin to solidified hot fudge sauce- yummy

We spotted a sign at the small park next to Tidewater: Farmers Market Sat 9-12.  Lucky us, we seldom run across a market and this one was so convenient. Our morning just got better-the plan to raid the bakery was enhanced by a market opportunity.




And there we are, essentially next door.

How close can you get?

How close can you get?

The Vienna bread at $1.95 from Golls was a steal. Hearty and flavorful, with a soft crust, it made excellent french toast. The bacon/cheddar/chive scones and pasture eggs purchased at the market.

More doughnuts and raisin sweet rolls are missing

More doughnuts and raisin sweet rolls are missing from the photo

Stomachs full and the bread basket stocked, we headed out back into the Bay our bows pointing toward the South River, which can you believe is the next river south of Annapolis?

“Smokin'” or “Warp Speed”: same result!

a see-yourself shine

Russ worked long and hard for this shine. Pretty good teamwork getting those boot stripes on straight.

After four weeks hauled out Twins and crew were ready to find a happy place on the water. NOAA and other weather sources indicated several days of benign traveling conditions. That clever Captain devised an aggressive schedule that would land us near the C&D Canal at the end of the third day. I mean is he crazy?  Getting up at o’dark thirty?? This guy hates getting up before 7:30!! You’d think we were going to be flying out on a tropical vacation.  But in all fairness, I am ALL for calm traveling conditions and since we were ready to go; let’s do it.

Each day brought rougher conditions than the previous, but with luck, skill and damn long days we covered 317nm (that’s 365 landlubber miles) in three days, anchoring in the upper Chesapeake’s Bohemia River Thursday, September 22 at 5:15.  Whew.

Wow, what a way to start what I call PDQ Yr 2, but you can also call it Nomad Yr 7 (4 yrs s/v Ortolan, 1 yr m/h Anne Bonny and this will be Yr 2 with m/v Twin Sisters).  Getting to be so many years I am losing track.

Kitchen Little- place of birthday breakfast dining- as we pass by on Sept 20

Kitchen Little (with blue awning)- place of birthday breakfast dining- as we pass by on Sept 20

We left Mystic very early so that we’d have time to pop up the CT River a few miles and fuel up at Old Lyme Fuel Dock, which saved 20cents/gal.  Long Island Sound gave us no trouble plus a bonus of favorable current most of the way to our anchorage immediately before the Throgs Neck Bridge.

M/V The General- the first of what will be many interesting vessels we see along the way. Yes a tree

M/V The General– the first of what will be many interesting vessels we see along the way.  Tree at stern?

fish going crazy

Fish going crazy!

When Russ started looking at the things we always do, like; current, especially in New York’s East River (which isn’t technically a river) and Hell Gate; weather (wind, waves, rain) and offshore conditions, we got a surprise. The United Nations would be in session that week and on various days much of the East River by Roosevelt Island would be closed to pleasure craft. Between the short good weather window and the need to get past the UN before 9am, we needed to end Day 1 as close as possible and the moderate-sized anchorage next to the Throgs Neck Bridge was as close as you could get.

The night was very calm but boy the highway noise never let up.

Sunset as seen from Little Bay anchorage next to bridge

Sunset as seen from Little Bay anchorage next to bridge


just before 7am Looking back at Throgs Neck Bridge

Just before 7am.  Looking back at Throgs Neck Bridge. Three photos with our devices; Russ had the winner



Our CG escort past the UN bldg

Our Coast Guard small boat escort past the UN building. Keeps them from getting bored.


On the Roosevelt Island side, more enforcement vessels wait to enforce the 9am west channel closure

On the Roosevelt Island side, more enforcement vessels wait to enforce the 9am west channel closure

Our goal Day 2 was Atlantic City. The inlet is decent, not great, but boats have two places to anchor. One is subject to current so you will swing when it changes, and the other is tricky but you are more protected. We chose tricky and protected.

Waves and outgoing tide made for a slow soppy ride- but we sped up

Waves and outgoing tide made for a slow, sloppy ride- but we sped up

We are heading for the narrow cut between the grass and the beach

We are heading for the narrow cut between the grass and the beach

As often happens, we are entering a very narrow entrance, trying to follow stakes that mark the way in and a tour boat is coming out on our left side. We move right, too much and almost run aground in mud. Russ quickly reverses and I firmly indicate we NEED to go toward where that boat had been.  Leaving the next morning at low tide- oh I didn’t say that we’d come in one hour before low today- was really going to be “fun”.

Harrahs large moving lit sign

A red-sky-sailors-delight sunset behind Harrahs

Departing the Atl City anchorage at 7am

Departing the Atlantic City anchorage at 7am. Followed the stakes and the path out was obvious.

We moved along at 3000 rpm which means roughly 13kts, headed for the tip of Cape May, then rounding up into the Delaware River.  With wind and waves behind us the ride was OK but rougher than yesterday. Rounding Cape May was quite unpleasant as the wind and waves were more broadside, and larger. Russ mentioned later that we often hit 19kts down a wave. Once further into the River we slowed down and by golly the forecast was accurate and by noon we’d reached very mild conditions. Ahhhh.

A bit of sun and all was pleasant on the often yucky Delaware. Sorry George. An incoming tide moved us along with an extra 2kt boost and we realized we could also have a favorable boost through the C&D Canal if we continued on, so we did.

Wowza! What a start. Three days from Mystic, CT to the Bohemia River on the upper Chesapeake Bay.  We did it!  The re-balanced props boosted our speed and we are finally in line with other PDQ 34s. Burned a bit of fuel as expected; price one pays for smokin’ at warp speed!


Of haulouts, repairs and driving north

Lifted up and out for a land respite

Lifted up and out for a land respite

We’d put it off long enough; first from last fall, then spring, until finally it had to be done; the dreaded haulout and associated time-consuming, laborious tasks- most of which fall on the Captain’s shoulders.

Our pre-selected haulout location ended up making us nervous for several reasons, so mid-stream (actually it was more like as we were about to step on to the shore) we chose another marina that just happened (really) to be a stone’s throw from downtown Mystic. With a view of the famous drawbridge, the Mystic River, and close to great dining and shopping; what’s not to like? I bravely withstood the constant temptation to wander around town.

The price was right, we could hook in to electric and water and no problem doing our own work- oh and stay as long as you need. On site washer and dryer, clean and spacious bath/shower rooms put a smile on my face.


Props in process of being removed

Props in process of being removed- the line cutters came with the boat so we will keep them


The reason new striping was needed

The reason new striping was needed- we removed 3/4 of the navy and gold boot striping


Then it happened. I’d been waiting for it; a car breakdown. Bonny is 13 years old, so hey it’s time. You know how it goes; I hear a sound under the hood as we are almost back to the marina after a morning of errands. Honey do you hear that? Finally he does but we park, unload and don’t give it another thought. The next evening we head to dinner at the Oyster Club’s Treehouse. Drove the car. By the time we were parking the noise was VERY LOUD and smoke poured from under the bonnet. (hood)

Shredded fan belt lay on the road. That could have ruined our evening but Russ talked with the auto shop who felt sure we could drive the car there with little difficulty later that evening. Not too busy, they’d look at her first thing. I walked back and let Russ drive Bonny the four miles; he made it with only 4 pull-overs to prevent overheating. Uber ride back by 7:30. Done.

Cathy came one morning and we walked 5 miles RT along the Mystic River then over to Sift Bakery for authentic croissants and refreshing beverages in air-conditioned comfort. Amazing how 5 miles seems like 2 when one is walking, chatting and enjoying the sights and all the other energetic peeps out and about. I deeply regret not having a chocolate croissant photo to share; you’d be wowed! Cathy (who has traveled to France) pronounced them totally authentic.  Two weeks later: a do-over!

How lucky to enjoy excellent weather (actually most of the summer was superb) when we had to get things done, like compounding and buffing; bottom painting two coats and a hundred minor things that must be done while on land.

For a long while Russ had been torn between a kayak and a stand-up paddle board. Space, cost and enjoyability all factors to consider. >>>> then he found a deal not to be beat and that evening tried it out. Four weeks later (as I write this) a second try is waiting.

Trying out the new board

Trying out the new board.  Shaky yes, but he turned well and stayed dry.

We took a break between September 2nd and 7th, driving a comfy rental car to Vermont for our son’s birthday then whisking him away to visit family in Western New York. During that time away Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hermine would be visiting the CT shore. Bonny got moved to higher ground (aka Cathy’s place), Twin Sisters was up high enough on blocks and if the power failed we had solar.

Visited the farm where Benj is part of a great farm crew. Got the personal tour and picked all the cherry tomatoes, large tomatoes, raspberries and flowers we could carry.

Someone prints very nicely!

Someone prints very nicely!

Vampires beware!

Vampires beware!


Between Albany, NY and Buffalo, the NY State Thruway parallels the Erie Canal which has a companion railroad track for company. We stopped for a leg stretch and to take a peek at a place we know other cruising friends have traversed.

Lock #13 rest stop on NY State Thruway

Lock #13 rest stop on NY State Thruway

The Hamburg Brewing Company is just gorgeous, not like a beer pub at all. More and more we find craft breweries welcoming, creative and comfy places to visit and hang out. This place sat well with all of us.🙂

Hamburg Brewing Co

Hamburg Brewing Co- Eva, Ray, Benj, Russ and I enjoyed a lovely evening- great beer & food!


A place called Canalside in Buffalo

Benj wanted to get a look at Lake Erie so after Sunday brunch we drove along the Lake, ending up at Canalside where there’s plenty to do. The biggy thing is the Naval & Military Park where for a modest fee you get to tour: Museum, USS Little Rock (Guided Missile Light Cruiser), USS Croaker (Hunter/Killer Diesel-Electric Submarine) and USS The Sullivans (Large Destroyer).

USS Little Rock was commissioned in 1945. Her homeport was Newport, Rhode Island and she made many cruises to the Med and North Atlantic. Decommissioned in 1976, she is the only guided missile cruiser on display in the United States.

USS The Sullivans was commissioned in 1943 in San Francisco. She is named for the five Sullivan brothers who enlisted in the Navy and served together on USS Juneau. In 1942 all five died while fighting off Guadalcanal. A Japanese submarine sunk the Juneau and 700 sailors perished that day. USS The Sullivans is first Navy destroyer ever named after more than one person.

The ship sported the shamrock of Ireland on her forward stack and entered WWII with 23 crewmembers named Sullivan. She fought many battles, rescued numerous survivors from downed planes and sinking ships never lost a man in battle. Good Irish luck this ship.

A tour of Croaker would be my first look at the interior of a submarine. She was commissioned in 1944 after being launched in Groton, CT ( yay Groton!) She made six WWII patrols in the Pacific and received three battle stars for her service.

Mother & child pose by the berthing compt get it?

Mother & child pose by the berthing compartment (get it?) on USS The Sullivans



If you’ve wondered how the person knows which flag (s) to raise- this is how. A cheat sheet of sorts

The photo above is aboard The Sullivans; see the shamrock?

How great to be aboard a ship with so much history.img_2771-600x800

After a stop at Paula’s Donuts (you knew donuts would be part of the trip, right?), we meandered through the Charles Burchfield Nature & Art Center, which was a few miles up the road. I have returned to the Buffalo area many,many times since 1960 when my Dad was transferred to New Haven, CT but had never heard of Buffalo Creek.

Exploring Buffalo Creek- somethng Id never heard of before

Exploring Buffalo Creek- looks like a dry summer.



We returned to find Bonny in her happy place, the boat exactly as we left her, the power had gone out but not long enough to matter and the often fluky fridge purred along keeping a proper temperature.

Once back in Mystic, the Energizer bunnies (we’d been dubbed that by fellow boaters) got to work in earnest. Two coats of wax on the hulls, (it’s like two boats you know), and beautiful re-balanced props back on with the line cutters in place, new zincs on the props and rudders to protect them from stray electrical current. And a dozen more things too numerous to mention.

The wide navy applies easier than the narrow gold

The wide navy applies easier than the narrow gold. The correct spacing just happened to be tape width.

We took a break to enjoy a few meals at Mystic Eats

We took a break to enjoy a few meals at Mystic Eats

Thai Peanut veggie wrap and a Thai Iced Tea please

Thai Peanut veggie wrap and a Thai Iced Tea please

Met our revised goal to be done and ready to go back in Thursday Sept 15.

Gotta love those props, so pretty!

Gotta love those props, so pretty!

img_2816-800x600Then would you believe…. More cleaning?!?!?  Flybridge and deck- damn but that decked shone whiter than pure snow! An endeavor to be admired for oh, a few hours. All nine outdoor cushions went back on. I’d scrubbed them then applied a well-rubbed in coat of 303 Protectant.

Cathy & PJ join us for dessert!!

Cathy & PJ join us for birthday dessert!!

Then we got to the good part, clearing the mess inside and looking like a useable vessel again.

One final thing on the to-do list was to drop off Bonny at her winter home; our nephew’s place. She will be safe and secure and maybe that coolant leak will miraculously disappear by June.🙂

Drop Bonny off at Matt's

Bye-bye Bonny. Be good now. See you in 2017!

Our Real Vacation

Blues on the Beach- only this was a country band

Blues on the Beach- only this was a country band

I considered just doing a copy & paste of the same stops we made in 2014 at the start of our trip to bring Ortolan back up to Maine, but that would be way too lazy of me. Rather, you will continue to enjoy more photos and less verbiage.

Amazingly we did depart Deep River on August 1. We soon realized how protected the marina is (well, we did know that) when we stuck our little cat noses out into Long Island Sound after a ten mile trip down the CT River. The Old Lyme Draw bridge tender must have popped a happy pill because he opened up for us in between trains. We thought he’d give us a hard time with our height; the height board read a skimpy 18ft, which is what we are. Not taking any chances we always want 19ft.

Wind and waves on our bow quarter was less than pleasant but hey, we needed a reminder of how it can feel “out there”.

In the above photo you can see people milling about tables near the building. They are selecting free Block Island Wind Farm T-shirts and Frisbees. Yes, we got some too.  One or two wind vanes were up and we got a good look at them on our way east to Cuttyhunk.


The Block Island Sound WInd Farm is becoming a reality. Ferry headed into Old HArbor

The Block Island Sound Wind Farm is becoming a reality. Ferry heads into Old Harbor

We spent several nights on Cuttyhunk on a comfy inner harbor mooring. In summer if you want a town mooring, best to get there by 1pm or be prepared to anchor (not good holding) or take a mooring in the outer (not as protected) harbor or anchor out there. We like calm and not squeaky.

Our next stop was a new spot on the south (Vineyard Sound) side of Nashon Island, also part of the Elizabeth Island chain, named Tarpaulin Cove. Low winds out of the north that morning would find us snug in that cove and when the wind switched to SSW we’d be anchored in the lee of Menemsha.

Tarpaulin Cove - Elizabeth Island chain and yes, that's a cow

Tarpaulin Cove – Elizabeth Island chain and yes, that’s a cow

After lunch we headed over to anchor in Menemsha Bight near shore and close to the jetty entrance. President Obama and family were in town.  As best we could tell we did get within two miles of the house they rented. Any closer and the Coast Guard would have been mad at us.

Coasties guard near the Pres rental house

Coasties guard near the President’s rental house


Guarding the Pres is serious biz

Guarding the President is serious biz. We heard a few boats call on VHF to be sure they could enter the harbor, even though these guys were a mile away.


Classic Menemsha sunset

Classic Menemsha sunset


The usual huge turnout for sunset

The usual huge turnout on the beach for sunset


Loving the sunsets

Loving the sunset

We spent two nights anchored. More beach combing. More great seafood. More cute shops. Lots of chillin’ out. You know that song, “Working on her tan”? Me.

Next stop Lake Tashmoo. Last time there, in July 2014, we had the excitement of  s/v Julia Lee. I am happy to report that she’s since been soundly repaired and better than ever. How do I know this? Click What happened to Julia Lee.

Naturally the excitement this visit involved what else- a sailboat. sorry guys nothing personal. First we had teeny incident #1. Well we didn’t have it but we did help to cause it. Gulp. Not our fault, really. Lake Tashmoo was a lake until the skinny section by Vineyard Sound broke through in some storm. Sand loves to move around and a narrow opening means more current and thus more force to move sand. In other words, enter with caution shoaling occurring. But maybe not in the same place as last year, or the year before.

We read all about it in- yep you got it- ActiveCaptain.  Wanting to be our usual cautious selves we thought best to not arrive at low tide. Wanting to arrive ahead of the approaching rain, and not able to get an accurate time for tide, we managed to arrive pretty much at low. So we expected the depth alarm to sound (it’s set for 6ft). Enter favoring the “green side” which in this case means left, but then once just inside lord knows what you should do.

As we enter the lake a sailboat hails us, Russ answers at the upper helm before I can grab the lower mic. I knew why and I also knew that the depth sounder was reading 6ft and going down, and Russ needed to pay attention. So he tells the boat the lowest reading he saw was 6.2ft or so but by then even though we are moving slowly, we get a reading of 5.7ft; fine for us maybe not so fine for a sailboat. We anchor, it rains, we hear a boat hail SeaTow. Uh oh. They are aground just inside Lake Tashmoo. Gee, do you think? A short time later they got off and canceled the assist call. Whew.

Next we witnessed more impressive incident #2. The area where most boats anchor, because that’s where the moored boats aren’t, is loaded with eel grass. Not conducive to getting a lasting hold. We watched one boat bring up an anchor LOADED with eel grass and yet another had only a teeny strand. We’d anchored between these two.

Ok I’m getting to the story. Sailboat with older couple makes several attempts to anchor next to us. Russ shares what we learned about calling the Pump Out boat (and works with the Vineyard Haven Harbormaster in the Lake) to request a mooring. Not only is it poor holding but “they” want to replenish the eel grass for several environmentally friendly reasons. If we had known to call, we too would have been placed on an available mooring but since we were already well anchored, we should stay put. Oh but only for three nights, then “they” want you to leave.

Nope, the sailboat captain doesn’t call for a mooring and instead somehow (we missed seeing that exact moment) gets tangled up on the anchor line of a small power boat. He topples overboard. The Pump Out boat races to the rescue and returns the man to his boat (now wearing a PFD) where his wife (I assume) remained at the helm. The Vineyard Haven Harbormaster arrives. The sailboat captain dives in to try to untangle the anchor line that’s become wrapped around his rudder- thus keeping the boat in place. No luck, so the line is cut and a float attached. The sailboat gets a short hip tow to a mooring, the small power boat gets brought to one also since his anchor line was cut.  The anchor is retrieved and returned to the power boat.

By this time we are incredulous and yes, feeling a bit ..– no not really so I won’t say we were. We’d seen the power boat’s owner paddle out on his SUP so now what happens when he paddles out and his boat isn’t where he’s been anchoring probably all summer?  No worries, things worked out.

Always exciting in Lake Tashmoo

Always exciting in Lake Tashmoo. The misbehaved sailboat, the Pump Out boat and the Harbormaster


Sneak peak at the Wagner's new house

Sneak peak at the Wagner’s new house. Their house on Elizabeth Island (Bahamas) is named Top of the World. Maybe this one will be Pride of the Lake.

From the Lake you can walk into Vineyard Haven and enjoy shopping, dining (Black Dog), sightseeing and people watching. But I am sad to report that you cannot visit the wonderful bead shop as it has moved to Virginia Beach.

Friday night- our third and final allowed night, saw all moorings full as boats were having no luck with anchoring and the wind was due to blow with a possible T-storm. One boat dragged.  We watched our drag alarm (a visual app on the iPhone); puzzled that it seemed to show us further from the anchor than ever. With one mooring available ( we’d watched someone leave a short while back) we upped anchor and grabbed that ball. Precious little eel grass. Doubt we were dragging, but now we’d sleep well.  Saturday, off to Edgartown.

The On Time II ferry docks at Chappaquidick

The On Time II ferry docks at Chappaquiddick.

The Vineyard is busier on weekends and we try to not make a move into a popular mooring field on a weekend day, but since we had to leave Lake Tashmoo, Edgartown with its large mooring field edged out Oak Bluffs. Again, arrive early enough for best luck. We did. It worked out and we stayed five nights. More shopping, a long beach walk, more great dining and plenty of R&R.

What a great sale; and it dwarfs the boat!

What a great sail; and it dwarfs the boat!

Another tasty breakfast with fab service

One morning we went in for a tasty breakfast with fantastic service. Edgartown has it all.

Too cute these young sailors

Too cute these young sailors getting towed to their safe sailing spot


Seagull joins us for breakfast. The Boch mansion straight ahead

Seagull joins us for breakfast in Edgartown. The Boch mansion straight ahead- some hotels aren’t that huge

After Edgartown we had a favorable wind/weather day to backtrack to Cuttyhunk and a decent day to go from there to Stonington, CT.  I noticed a pirate flag on the boat next to us and really had to smile at the name. Note the sailboat on the right. Look familiar?

Aye matey a pirate vessel at Cuttyhunk

The younger generation works the Raw Bar at Cuttyhunk

The younger generation works the Raw Bar at Cuttyhunk

Full moon rising as seen from Cuttyhunk looking toward the Vineyard

Full moon rising as seen from Cuttyhunk looking toward the Vineyard

This awesome ship was anchored in Cuttyhunk’s outer harbor

In days of old when ships were bold and pirates ruled the seas.

In days of old when ships were bold and pirates ruled the seas.

So was this lady.

S/Y Arabella- modern is nice too

S/Y Arabella- modern is nice too

Next stop: Stonington. More seafood, more great dining, a bit of shopping and some R&R time on a windy day.

Our plan was to return to Chester, a town up from Deep River, for the dreaded haulout. Long story short (yay!) we ended up changing to Mystic; but would that be for the best??



How we spent our summer vacation

A vacation from what? Living the good life? Why you ask, would we need a vacation?  But remember, we operate the opposite and while we are enjoying sandy beaches, sand bars and cruiser meet-ups, most of the country is freezing your buns off!  So come summer, it’s our turn for some unpleasantness in the form of boat projects. On the plus side we get to stay in one place (this time for 5 weeks), get together with friends and family, shop lots and do all those things we generally can’t easily do without a car.

Most of the boat projects were one-time deals that will make living aboard more pleasant, easier or safer. Routine maintenance like oil and filter changes never goes away, same for cleaning and making sure we haven’t sprung a leak someplace.  Now, sit back and enjoy a visual re-cap- (I’d already forgotten much of what we’d done!!)

Friends Cathy and Linda came for lunch. Russ is the perfect chauffeur

As usual, the big camera with great zoom came in handy for feathered friends fotos!

The osprey families were active, the young ones practicing nest building, fishing and flying every day. Had several landings on our bimini top accompanied by large stick donations. Two boats near us were heavily favored by osprey and even though the boats got used, the osprey never gave up.

From our mooring we have a great view in all directions

From our mooring we have a great view in all directions, perfect for bird and boat watching

The top of this boat was even more favored than the small boat

The top of this boat was even more favored than the small boat

Friends were kind enough to invite us to their home for their famous home-made margaritas and dinner!!

Homemade margaritas at Chez Wyeth

Homemade margaritas at Chez Wyeth

We’ve missed doing it once or twice (not easy when we only had the RV!) but our family, and Russ’s family growing up, tradition on Father’s Day was to spend a relaxing few hours (at least) in Lyme’s Hamburg Cove. No anchoring, moorings only. You can pick up a rental one, but picking up a private ball is accepted practice and if the owner comes along you move to another. Only happened to us once.

Our first raftup in Hamburg Cove

Our first raft-up in Hamburg Cove! David,Seth and Matt join us after lunch, zooming down the River from the Blue Oar. Would you believe we got lobster rolls to go? Russ enjoyed a near-perfect day. ( No Benj)


Drilling holes to add cleats at sterns

Drilling holes to add cleats at sterns


The egrets and swans sense bad weather coming. and they were right

The egrets and swans sense bad weather coming. and they were right


Dark storm clouds loom at sunset

Dark storm clouds loom at sunset

Raising helm seat -unused spice rack pieces from Catskill Craftsmen RV cabinet

Raising helm seat – unused spice rack pieces from Catskill Craftsmen RV cabinet


Adding Port Visors to keep rain out when hatch open

Adding Port Visors to keep rain out when the hatch is open

And for us, what’s a boat without some deck wetness?? Discovered during the pre-purchase survey and pooh-pooh’d by the surveyor, no way was Russ going to not deal with it. Sooooo he removed the metal anchor chute dug out much of the wetter sections and let it all bake in the sun for days. Before the next rain we filled up the spaces with West System Epoxy and replaced the anchor chute.


holes & spaces filled with epoxy,

Holes & spaces filled with epoxy. Ready for tape removal and replacing the track and anchor.

The stern bench seat is a good place to sit when you want to be outside but it’s too windy for the flybridge. With only bottom seat cushions it wasn’t very comfy as the backboard was a tad hard, as you can imagine. Russ decided- ah yes another project- to move the grill. It had been placed on the left side (looking at this photo) on the stand it came with, cable ties secured it to the bench seat. One of our two propane tanks had to be next to the grill. The setup worked but it was sloppy. Russ moved the grill to the right side of the bench seat while we were at Herrington Harbor, and that seat cushion is now in storage.

This enabled us to run a propane line up and over to the propane tank locker in the flybridge so that both tanks could be properly secured and none sitting out looking messy.

One of many projects- moving grill from SB side to Port, losing most of the stand

One of the Herrington Harbor projects- moving grill from SB side to Port, losing most of the stand

The back cushion is only the length of the two remaining seat cushions.

New back cushion for stern bench

New back cushion for stern bench- easy deal from AffordableBoatCushions!

Our 25 year-old nephew recently bought a duplex in town so a visit and pizza were in order.

back of Matt's

In back of Matt’s

He's thinking of selling this

He’s thinking of selling this- Ok he did!


One of the first things to tackle was the lifelines. We’d planned to remove them and send them out to be re-coated with vinyl.

You can see in the below photo, how discolored the vinyl is. Ten years will do that. But then we got to thinking that Ms Ortolan had bare lifelines, so why not on this baby?

A quick check revealed the bare wire was in great shape and all we had to do was carefully remove the vinyl, clean off the rust and put them back on. Saved a bundle of boat $$.

A few of the removed lifelines with discolored vinyl removed

A few of the removed lifelines with discolored vinyl removed

Lifelines waiting their turn

Lifelines waiting their turn to be cleaned.

These folks failed to realize the current was stronger than they could paddle, especially with the blue kayak in tow.

I got a good chuckle but the girl in the blue kayak was very upset

I got a good chuckle but the girl in the blue kayak was very upset


Morning breakfast hunt at very low tide

Morning breakfast hunt at very low tide


benj arrives- this time with his farmer tan

Our son drove down for a short visit…this time with his farmer tan

Lunch at Lobster Landing is a must when Benj comes, not to mention we must have enjoyed these most wonderful rolls several times during our time in CT.  The place is conveniently located very near our UPS Store and storage unit. Wednesday is Senior Day- save $2.50 off the regular price. These are THE best; even the roll is special.

Deeply stuffed grinder roll perfectly toasted and loaded with fresh cooked lobster drnched in not too salty butter- heaven

Deeply stuffed grinder roll perfectly toasted and loaded with fresh cooked lobster drenched in not too salty butter- heaven


This place- especially on Fathers Day!

This place has a cozy spot in Clinton Harbor


Finally get to The Blue Oar

Our first visit to The Blue Oar. Another great dining spot on the water. This is on the Connecticut River.


Full moon rises at sunset

Many of you know that Russ sold his wildly successful locksmith biz in the spring of 2010. The current owner is keeping it alive and we sometimes run into him now that he’s got a box at the same UPS store that we do. We, and Benj too, hears about RL&S truck sightings from time to time. But the best by far was the time Benj saw this truck in Middlebury, VT!!  Talk about covering a huge territory.

WOW- look who we neet at UPS Store- our neighbor

WOW- look who we meet at UPS Store! The real red heads.🙂


We took line inventory

We took line inventory. Think we have enough? Nah, we bought two more. Nice blue ones.


Elise, Erin and Sean brought flowers

Elise, Erin and Sean brought flowers when they came to visit. How sweet was that?

We went to look at a boat. Isn’t that what boaters do? Those who wish to be on the water more do it too! Matt wanted our opinion on this one in nearby Westbrook (where Russ and Matt’s parents grew up).  Who are we to discourage safe boating? Our nephew has since decided a twin-engine cruiser is preferable and we have to agree. Maybe next summer we will be rafting up to a different boat in Hamburg Cove.🙂

Kinda interested, but only has one outboard- otherwise in great shape

Was an easy boat to check out, but only has one outboard- otherwise in great shape

Much of what we bought for Twins was purchased on-line. But we did our share of local brick & mortar shopping.

New plates & mats on sale at Pier 1 and a book I have longed for

New plates & mats on sale at Pier 1 and a book I have longed for

Well folks, those were the highlights! Lots more occurred but I am worn out and you are nodding off so I will close for now.

The plan was to finish by July 31 so we could head off for a few weeks to cruise the Sounds: Long Island, Block Island and Vineyard with stops at our favorite islands along the way. The Real Vacation is up next!



Cape May – Deep River, CT: Of Whales and Castles

Past the anchorage, rounding to the inlet ,looking back in

As we left the anchorage I turned back and took this shot.

We headed out very early Wednesday, greeted by a most benign Mother Ocean. I got goose bumps knowing home turf was within our grasp… and we weren’t out of food! My celery had rotted though. (inside joke).

Others had left on their own pre-determined schedule; the faster (than us) yachts get to sleep in.

Looking back as we pass the ends of the jetties

Looking back as we pass the ends of the jetties at the Cape May ocean inlet

You may observe how smooth and calm the water is; imagine our happy, happy faces and thoughts.

Wildwood's famous boardwalk and wow rides

Wildwood’s famous boardwalk and wow rides. We are about one mile off the shore.

Oh look, the delights of Atlantic City.🙂.  Time to play your Trump card, if you have one.

Trump Taj Mahal

Trump Taj Mahal

Somewhere north of Asbury Park, after I’d foolishly put the camera inside, a very noticeable splash occurred near shore off our port side (that would “left” side for you landlubbers).  Maybe my eye saw more than registered but I instantly thought “whale” because the splash was too big for a fish. But I said (don’t laugh), “sewer” to Russ because the chart showed drainage pipes emptying into the water and well, maybe this was a big spurt. Ok, not, but Russ kinda bought it. Of course I kept looking and the undeniable truth was, yes a whale. Slapping his/her tail to make the fishies school only to be gobbled up.

So that explains the whale watching boats we saw in Cape May and along the NJ coast north of Atlantic City. Turns out they are Humpback Whales who come in very close to the beach to feed. Only our second whale sighting ever; the first being a few miles off the New Hampshire coast in Ortolan, summer 2014.

Humpback whale feeds close to shore

Humpback whale feeds close to shore. It was closer to the beach than we were to it.

The New Jersey coast is long, as is its seaside history. So many unusual structures kept us interested.

We’d read that sand was collecting at a rapid rate on Sandy Hook, which meant that the Coasties needed to move the channel buoys so the big ships wouldn’t run aground. But is must be a big deal for the electronic chart guys to show the actual channel correctly between the buoys; just nudge it over a bit guys.  We came in near high tide; the photo below probably would have looked more impressive at low tide.

channel in, buoys moved but not the channel depicted on chart AIS are dredges

Buoys moved but not the channel depicted on chart

Rounding Sandy Hook- beach at the hook growing more each year

Rounding Sandy Hook- beach at the hook growing more each year.

A brisk southerly wind encouraged us to alter our anchoring spot for the night and we headed toward the protection of the Atlantic Highlands rather than hang more exposed by the CG Station.

Thursday morning brought a light shower which ended before we left- ah you know we like to run from up top and pouring rain would mean driving from inside.

Full speed ahead through the Lower & Upper Bays and into NY Harbor, waving to Ms Liberty, gagging at the monstrous cruise ship and hitting Hell Gate before the current got too strong against us. Done with that by 8:30 meant a very quiet trip, in terms of other vessels. Dreary yes, but NYC is always impressive even though we’ve done this ten times. We just aren’t quite as awed and intimidated as the first couple of times.



DSC03814 (800x594)

Dreary yes, but a classic East River scene is a delight

The protected East River can be deceiving once you get into Long Island Sound. If the forecast wasn’t “Light & Variable” it should have been and since it was we decided to go farther than Guilford and tuck in at Duck Island off Westbrook. This would leave us a very short trip to our final destination.

Who's driving the boat?

Who’s driving the boat?


Why, the Captain is.

Why, the Captain is.

On the water you are hard pressed to miss the former Castle Inn at Cornfield Point.  This grand, stone manse with a bright orange roof looming over Long Island Sound and the shingled cottages that surround it was originally built as a private summer home and its many lives are generally well-known to area residents.  I found a very recent Hartford Courant article and lifted some good info from it.

The current owners did what many dream of; drive around, spot a beauty, fall in love and buy it. This was in 2006 and the grand building was for sale. But, others had designs on the castle, and there was talk of tearing it down to build waterfront condos. Several million-dollar homes had recently been built close by.

Cornfield Pt- Castle Inn now a private home

Cornfield Pt- Castle Inn now a private home

Luckily for Old Saybrook the new owners wished to preserve the structure and worked for a year and a half, restoring it into a spectacular home that they share with the community, celebrating its storied history.

Designed to look like a Newport, R.I., mansion, the “summer house” was built on open farmland using local stones by insurance millionaire George Jarvis Beach and his wife, Elizabeth, niece of Samuel Colt, the gun manufacturer. Completed in 1908, the estate was named Hartlands, after Gen. William Hart, a relative of Elizabeth’s and former owner of the property.

Maintaining the huge home proved to be a financial burden so Beach leased the building and surrounding property to the military during World War I.

After Beach died, Gilbert Pratt of New York City bought the property and sold much of the surrounding 400 acres to developers, who transformed the area into a neighborhood of beach cottages.

In 1923, Otto Lindbergh, the uncle of aviator Charles Lindbergh, bought the castle and turned the private residence into Ye Castle Inn, an upscale hotel and restaurant that often hosted well-known actors starring in performances at the nearby Ivoryton Playhouse, including Ethel Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin. During Prohibition, the Lindberghs reportedly spearheaded a rum-running business from the shores of Connecticut to Long Island’s Montauk Point.

After the Lindbergh era, the castle became a popular site for weddings, banquets, brunch and dinner, until the early 1990s when it shut down and fell into disrepair.

Of course we know the place, Russ’s sister was married there (before my time), had a baby shower there (during my time) and the Mother’s Day I was pregnant we brought my parents for brunch.

It’s not uncommon for folks to stop by, wedding photo in hand, looking to revisit their special memories. Hey, we could do that.

“How touching is that?” asks the current owner, who regularly invites members of the community into the castle. “We have this philosophy. Just like with the ocean, it doesn’t belong to one person. It kind of belongs to everybody.”

Home, home on our mooring. Projects begin tomorrow! (not my idea)

So true.