Visiting Baltimore

A whale’s tail off NJ

We had a nice voyage thru Long Island Sound, NYC, down the NJ coast, up the Delaware River, across the C&D Canal & finally headed down the Chesapeake.  This year, we had considered detouring to visit the City of Baltimore.  When I heard from Jack (my brother) & Kerry from CA that they were visiting Baltimore at about the same time, that made our decision easy!  Hey, it wouldn’t be a family get-together without Benj, so he flew in for a few days too!



With a good weekly rate at Anchorage Marina, we settled in for a fun, busy 2 week first visit to Baltimore.  Anchorage Marina is in the Canton section of Baltimore about a 20 minute walk on the waters edge promenade to Fells Point.  Directly next to our marina was Professor Trash Wheel.  His job is to gobble up the street trash which floats down the street grates from the city directly into the harbor.  The orange booms direct the heaps of trash right into his “mouth”, up a conveyor & into a removable container.  During times of heavy rainfall he has to be constantly emptied, but it didn’t rain a drop during our 2 weeks, so no show for us.



The main tourist area, the Inner Harbor, was a bit further, so we usually took an Uber.  Benj only had time to visit 2 tourist attractions, so he chose touring the historic ships downtown & then taking a water taxi out of the harbor to Fort McHenry.  We toured 2 of the 4 historic ships, including the USS Constellation (the last surviving sailing naval warship, having been built back in 1854) along with the Chesapeake Lightship.

After lunch, a 20 minute water taxi ride brought us out to the historic Fort McHenry.  Originally built in 1798 & used in various forms up to WWII, it is more famously known for it’s role during the War of 1812.  On September 13, 1814, the fort successfully thwarted an attack by the British navy with superior firepower (including a new style of rockets – versus conventional cannons).  The morning of the 14th saw the British navy retreating, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry”, which eventually became our national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”.  That’s probably all you learned in High School, but there was much, much more including…  There was a simultaneous land attack, which almost succeeded.

The flag… you probably learned that “the” famous flag was celebrated by Francis Scott Key as it was still flying.  Actually, at dawn, the 17′ x 25′ American “storm flag” was lowered (which took the breath of Francis Scott Key – waiting for perhaps the British flag to be raised in victory).  However a larger 30′ x 42′ American “garrison flag” immediately took it’s place – hence the “our flag was still there” actually referred to the new, larger garrison flag which had just been raised.  It’s always good to hear, “the rest of the story”, versus the tiny amount we learned from school.

Both before & after Benj’s visit, we toured many sites, including the National Aquarium & The Museum of Industry.  The museum was especially interesting, showing the huge influence of Baltimore to manufacturing, inventions & distribution, especially with the B & O Railroad right in town.  Right near our marina had been the American Can Company & the National Can Company – the largest can manufacturers in the world.


Ahhh… pies for dinner!

We celebrated Lori’s birthday at a fabulous B&B named Rachael Dowry (George & Martha Washington ate there when the road was called the Columbia Highway – not sure if they slept there), enjoyed the most fabulous dinner ever at the Charlestown restaurant (number 1 of 1855 on Trip Advisor), bought a cannoli in Little Italy, had “dinner” at Dangerously Delicious Pies & much more.  We also enjoyed spending time with Jack & Kerry, including a relaxing harbor cruise on a Krogen 42 trawler.



Ohhhh… donuts?  Can’t live on pies alone!  We had to make a side trip on our museum day to stop at Diablo Donuts across the harbor.  Well worth the trip!


Where Has Summer Gone?

We spent a month at a slip in Deep River, CT catching up with friends & family, along with our various boat projects.  Then for the past month, we’ve been away for our summer’s New England cruise.

While we were tempted to head back to Maine, we didn’t want to rush thru (so next year!)  As we haven’t even been over to Long Island in a few years, we decided to spend our month more locally.   We planned to start at Provincetown, then back thru the Vineyard, Block & Long Island.  However, the more I researched Provincetown, the less appealing it appeared to visit by boat.  There is one marina there, semi-protected, but very, very expensive (almost $250/night w/power).  Moorings are unprotected (residents get the good ones behind the breakwater) at over $100/night.  We could anchor out, but it would be completely unprotected with over a mile dinghy ride in open water with limited dinghy dock options.  Taking into consideration the long trip (including the Cape Cod Canal), we quickly reconsidered.  Where else?  How about Nantucket?  Perfect – we haven’t been in 15 years, with Benj in our old Sea Ray.

Being New England, you can’t just go to Nantucket – you need reservations.  A slip was only a bit less than Provincetown, but they have a large, protected mooring field.  So with a week to go before our reservation, we headed off.  Some stormy weather was to begin our trip, but we wanted to at least get started, so we jumped over to Point Judith Pond we’d stopped at once before which was, well, as calm as a pond.

Entering the Point Judith breakwater on the way into the pond

No trip out this way is complete without the required stop at Cuttyhunk.  A magical place!

We have stopped here many times, with 3 or 4 of our boats over the years.  We always walk-the-walk to the top of the island for this great aerial view.  The highlight is always fresh Cuttyhunk oysters right off the boat.  Cuttyhunk was recently in national news as their very last student graduated from their one-room schoolhouse – officially the smallest school in the U.S.  Their year-round population has dropped to only 25 with no young children, so their school is closing after almost 150 years.

Menemsha, near the western end of Martha Vineyard, was our next stop.  We anchored off the beach which is famous for their sunsets.  Every night on the adjacent beach, hundreds of people descend to watch the sun set, with appropriate applauding & cheering.  Years ago there was a sailing catamaran which did a sunset cruise every night with a bagpiper playing on the bow as it sailed in – very memorable.

Edgartown, near the eastern end of Martha Vineyard, was another must-do stop.  While there is much to do & see there, we had to include a bus trip down island to Oak Bluffs for – you guessed it – donuts! Back Door Donuts began, as the story goes, when locals in-the-know would show up at night at the back door of the bakery & knock until the baker opened up to slip them a donut or two.  You still walk up to the back door, but now there is a long, snaking line with up to a hundred people patiently waiting for fresh, hot donuts, ideally eaten right there.  Two years ago they even re-named the bakery to simply – Back Door Donuts.

Weather & fog (lack of) nicely cooperated for our scheduled arrival to Nantucket.  After 15 years, all looked the same, well … except these weren’t here!  The boats (yachts!) have gotten much larger.  They can’t even fit at the docks anymore – these are “med moored” – they maneuver up, drop their massive anchors, then carefully back-in between the other yachts to a dock at their stern.  Of course, the captain isn’t in the pilothouse spinning the wheel & hastily gunning the throttles – no he (or she) simply stands on an open side bridge with a handheld joystick controller calmly operating the engines, bow & stern thrusters to slip right in without any (expensive) drama.

Nantucket is very expensive, so we only enjoyed one meal out, but it was fantastic, up on a deck overlooking the harbor.  If you like to people watch – this is the place.  All of the elites in their expensive clothing spending hundreds in the expensive stores. This might be the only stop where Lori didn’t buy a single thing!  We spent one day touring the island by bus with a stop at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum.  It was slightly larger & improved since our last visit.  We received a private tour which was very educational.  As many times as we’ve read about, looked at paintings & seen old photos of rescues of wrecked sailing ships during the 1800’s, it is still unbelievable.  How anyone was ever saved and how any of the rescuers ever made it back alive is beyond me.  It was especially a miracle in places such as Nantucket as the reefs were mostly miles off the coast & the winters particularly stormy.  Let’s say you were wrecked on a reef 3 miles out.  You could try starting a smokey fire to attract attention or at night they would hoist a burning mattress up the rigging (maybe not too successful in stormy, 50 knot weather).  If anyone on the island saw you, a volunteer crew (early on – later paid – the early beginning of the Lifesaving Service – later to become the Coast Guard) would attempt to launch their rescue “rowboat” from the beach thru the huge surf to begin their 3 mile row out to your stricken ship – if they could even find it.  That was the easy part.  To come alongside of a sinking ship during these conditions was nearly impossible – much less remain alongside while attempting to bring a few lucky crew aboard.  There was a dramatic painting of such a situation.  A line had been thrown between boats, with the stricken crew (too) frantically pulling hard on the line, while a member of the rescue crew stood with a hatchet up in the air ready to cut the line.  The French crew quickly understood & were eventually  saved, although the row back wasn’t any easier.  Did I mention there are also strong currents in these waters?  Sometimes they would row for hours, just to remain in place, waiting for the current to change.

One foggy morning at Block

On our return from Nantucket, we stopped back to the Vineyard, this time to Lake Tashmoo, to visit with some friends, then onward to Block Island.  Block is always a favorite, but more & more popular every year. We hoped that stopping by on a Tuesday mid-morning we would have a good chance of picking up a town mooring, or at least the anchoring field wouldn’t be too busy.  Wrong on both counts!  The moorings were all taken & we struggled a bit to find a good anchoring spot.  Fortunately our little powercat only needs 3′ of water so can almost beach her. This chart shows we almost did, but in reality we had over 4′ at low tide.  It was a little disconcerting though when I noticed a man walking thru the water past our boat!

We enjoy exploring & eating on Block, but wait … donuts … again!  Killer Donuts are pretty famous here & really good!  They’ve been on Block since 1963 & their slogan is “Worth the Weight”.  Only 3 varieties – plain, sugared or cinnamon/sugar.  We think their secret is sour creme, but Lori says more research is required!

Stopping at Montauk, Long Island was on my bucket list, as I hadn’t been there since about 10 years old.  Rather than stopping at an expensive marina, we saw we could just anchor further in.  We were foiled though, as there is absolutely no (legal) place to bring your dinghy near Montauk Harbor, so we had to pay over $30 just to tie up our dinghy for 3 hours in order to explore & have lunch.  The next day we brought our dinghy to a nearby beachy area near the main road & hailed an Uber ride to Montauk (the town) 2 miles away.  There happened to be a high-end bakery called the Montauk Bake Shop.  Famous for their jelly-filled donuts (not our favorite), we found a few fantastic donuts & pastries – really different & delicious!

By accident, walking back from a small grocery store attempting to get an Uber ride back, we stopped in front of a storefront for shade to use my phone – what is this place – Round Swamp Farm??  Ahhh … if you have $$$$, want convenience & to eat healthy … this is the place!  All sorts of gourmet food & lots & lots of healthy, prepared salads.  We bought & loved their Mexican Sweet Corn Salad!

Continuing back along Long Island, we anchored in Coecles Harbor, part of Shelter Island.  I spent dozens of weekends here in my youth as it was one of my parent’s favorite spots.  Next, we rented a mooring in Dering Harbor, around the other side of Shelter Island.  After exploring the very small town there, we enjoyed lunch at a small restaurant at The Chequit Inn.  The next day we took the short ferry ride over to Greenport to visit some old haunts, including lunch at Claudio’s Restaurant.  Claudio’s was established back in 1845 & was famous during Prohibition for having a secret trapdoor under the bar which allowed small boats underneath to bring up bootleg liquor.

Our last Long Island stop was Sag Harbor, another favorite, in the high-end “The Hamptons”. By accident(?) we came across a former ice cream shop – now a donut shop.  Probably our most expensive donuts ever.  They were good, but not great.  At least our lunch at Dockside did not disappoint.  Yet another restaurant I enjoyed as a youngin’ which is still there & very successful.

By Sag Harbor it was time to do laundry once again.  We discovered we were truly in “The Hamptons” when we went to the laundromat & discovered that the large washing machines were … $9.75/load!!

Back over to Connecticut.  While we’ve stayed at various Mystic marinas over the years (including at the Mystic Seaport itself when Benj was about 8 – Benj & his friend Leonard roamed the Seaport after closing, having fun evading the security guards!), I was intrigued by a possible anchorage just past the Mystic Seaport.  The Mystic River pretty much fizzles out past the Seaport, but there is a tiny area for shallow draft boats to anchor – otherwise only 1′ of water at low tide.  Being a weekday towards the end of summer, we figured we would give it a try.  It was a little weird going thru the famous Mystic River bridge with dozens of tourists taking our picture.  We continued past the Seaport & sounded the bottom looking for a good spot, although a trawler was right where we would have chosen.  After some careful checking, we anchored, only to see the trawler leave 10 minutes later.  Oh well, we picked up our anchor & moved to their perfect spot.  It was a wonderfully peaceful, with the Seaport just off our bow, complete with entertainment.  When the wind suddenly became gusty one afternoon, several of the little sailing dinghies from the Seaport flipped over & their chase boats were busy for quite a while picking everyone up & towing the boats in.

If anyone is looking for the Mayflower replica from Plymouth, MA, it is here at the Seaport for a 3-year restoration, being launched in September.

Our daily dinghy rides took us right past the Seaport, so we couldn’t help from taking a selfie at the stern of the Charles W. Morgan.  I was aboard her many times as a child (back then, she wasn’t even floating – just sitting on a bed of rocks).  After her full restoration, we cruised alongside her when she was “sailing” down Buzzards Bay back in 2014 – quite the transformation from a wreck on the rocks to fully operational & able to sail.  For those not in the know, the Charles W. Morgan is the last remaining wooden whaleship in the world, having been first launched in 1841.  To be honest, there is supposedly only one small piece of original wood remaining, but after 178 years, what would you expect?!

We enjoyed several fine meals in Mystic at favorites including the S & P Oyster Restaurant, the Oyster Club & Sift Bake Shop.  While Sift may not be officially a restaurant, it has recently doubled in size, added a huge rooftop patio & it’s owner, Adam Young, just won as Food Network’s “Best Baker in America”, so we’ll call it a must-go-to restaurant!  Their deserts & pastries are unbelievably good!

It was a great month cruising around “home” waters.  After a Labor Day weekend driving trip up to Vermont to see Benj for his birthday, we’ll be getting ready to soon head south once again.

Back in Connecticut

Overall our trip back north was uneventful, well … except for our haul-out & … a hail storm!  While docked at Delaware City Marina, we walked to get take-out at a nearby crab shack, as we were under several weather warnings which didn’t disappoint!  Although only quarter-sized, we had quite the show & boy was it loud on our fiberglass hull.  While hail may be common in many parts of the country, this is only the second time in my life I recall sizable hail – the first was in the late ’90’s.  Our house in Essex sustained several thousands in damage including damaged windows & broken glass.  For several years you still saw the occasional dented car.



We like redundancy, which is one reason we like catamarans … 2 hulls, 2 engines, etc.  While our main navigational electronics are 13 years old & were working sort-of o.k., our flybridge chartplotter would often go dim and/or beep warnings about this or that.  We have been supplementing them with an iPad mounted at the helm … again … redundancy.  I have often considered a major upgrade, but had stopped counting at a $17,000 replacement cost, as we have a large chartplotter both on the helm below & on the flybridge.  With changes in technology, we would also have to replace our radar, our heading sensor & so on.  “Just living with them” ended during our trip north when our flybridge chartplotter went dark at the same time our iPad’s internal GPS “got lost”.  In a particularly hazardous portion of the ICW, we had to navigate by iPhone.

Still, not wanting to spend $17,000+ along with several weeks of installation – eBay to the rescue!  For only $400, I replaced our flybridge chartplotter with a similar used model which works perfectly.  We will replace our iPad this summer with a new model.

Do you recall in the “olden” days when the postal service offered package delivery sent to a Post Office c/o General Delivery?  Well, they still do!  We had our eBay purchase sent to a town we knew we would be stopping at a week later & it all worked out well.

Lots of osprey nests, as usual.

A lovely sunset over Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Never tire of transversing the East River in NYC

The Old Saybrook, CT breakwater for the 200+th time. Home!

We’ll be at a slip in Deep River, Connecticut for a few weeks, before wandering around Long Island & the Vineyard for the rest of the summer.  It looks like returning to Maine will have to wait until next summer.

A Small Detour on our Way North

Some things you can only put off for so long … 

After almost 3 years, our bottom paint was no longer doing its job very well, which meant more swimming to scrape off barnacles & scrub off growth – almost fun in the Bahamas – not so much elsewhere.  We attempted to haul-out in Florida, but the yards were extremely busy, as many cruisers (especially Canadians) haul-out & leave their boats in Florida for hurricane season.

The sanding isn’t fun either…

… but I had my best helper working hard!

Ahhh …. as good as new!

We found a recommended boatyard in Deltaville, Virginia which could handle our wide beam, allows do-it-yourself labor & living aboard “on the hard”.  It may be called “on the hard” because you’re on hard land, but living aboard while hauled out is pretty hard as well!  We had electricity to run our refrigeration … but that was about it.  Our A/C can’t work on land.  The water at the marina is not potable – we only had the water in our tank.  Deltaville is fairly remote, so no taxis, Uber or rental cars, which also meant no restaurants, grocery stores or take-out.  Our timing was bad with the Memorial Day 3-day weekend, so we had to hustle and finish in 4 days or be stuck for 7 days.  Boy, did we hustle – successfully launched Friday afternoon with 2 coats of bottom paint & hulls (mostly) waxed.

In the end, Stingray Point Boat Yard was a good yard to work with & they were very accommodating to our hauling/launch schedule.

How many times have I hauled out?  Well, this is me “on the hard” around 1966, so I’d say too many!

Britt’s Donut Shop – North Carolina

While you may think we joke around about donuts – we do not.  Our travels thru North Carolina were timed around the limited (in spring time) Friday – Sunday opening of Britt’s Donuts in Carolina Beach.  Soooo delicious & they must be eaten while hot out of the oil!  Bonus points for burning your mouth!  Britt’s Donuts are consistently rated as one of the top 5 best donuts in the U.S.  Celebrating their 80th year in business – we had to be there!



We also enjoyed a fun night out with good cruiser friends Jim & Laurie.  We first meet in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas while they were cruising on their sailing catamaran & have since met up many times including at their cabin in Maine as well as their “new” (100 year old)  house in Wilmington, NC.  The Surf House Oyster Bar in Carolina Beach was outstanding.  This was a lovely complementary app called the Red Neck Picnic.  We enjoyed catching up & much laughter!

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, without a doubt, is our favorite city to visit.  We learn a little more of it’s history with every visit.  This time we toured the 1771 Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon.  Originally built as a Custom House & as a testament to the city’s growing trade, the Exchange in 1788 hosted South Carolina leaders as they debated and approved the U. S. Constitution. Today, the Old Exchange Building is one of only four structures remaining where the nation’s founding document was originally ratified.  In 1791, city leaders wined, dined & entertained President George Washington.  Back during the American Revolution, British forces converted the bottom floor of the Exchange into a military prison known as the Provost or “dungeon.” American prisoners of war, British soldiers, private citizens, and enslaved people all endured its harsh confines.

Enough history – we came to eat!  Lori enjoyed her oyster pie at a new restaurant named Hooked.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary with brunch at High Cotton.  Fantastic fried oysters & shrimp cocktail.  You (we) have to love any restaurant which serves donut holes as an appetizer!  Really, really, tasty with a bacon, cinnamon glaze.




One of Charleston’s newest restaurant’s is also one of the smallest.  167 Raw is very small – only 2 tables plus some seats at the bar.  Lori’s gourmet salmon salad & my oyster Po’ Boy  were outstanding!  Preceded by a sample platter of oysters, clams & shrimp, it was well worth the wait!  Even on a late Monday morning, there was a bit of a wait outside the restaurant.  At times, there is a several hour wait.


Enjoying nice weather & low winds, we decided to push on thru Georgia.  Having higher tides while transiting certain areas is critical.  Many areas need serious dredging (to transit at low tide), but with 7′ tides, there is plenty of water if you time your trip correctly. Cumberland Island is one of our favorite stops.  Most boats anchor near the southern end of the island at Dungeness, but this time we anchored near the northern end in the Brickhill River.  While we arrived too late to spend time ashore, we were treated to quite the show right next to our boat.  These 2 feral horses decided to sample the tender shoots growing on the muddy bank.  We were getting a bit nervous as this one explored further into the muck & kept sinking deeper & deeper.  We couldn’t do much – would the Park Service respond if we called?  These are wild horses – would they just let nature take it’s course?  After a while, no worries, he just plodded out as if it was no big deal.

Lori spotted a log in the water – then the “log” made a blood curdling cry – not a log.

Next the birds arrived – Dozens of large birds gathering to roost for the night.  This photo can’t capture them all, as many blended right into the trees.  The bird to the right is a wood stork.

Earlier, we spotted a family of feral boars checking out the water’s edge, but were scared away by our approach before we could get out our camera.

It is a bit funny that during our first trip to Cumberland Island 9 years ago, we didn’t see a single creature, even though we walked across & about for several hours.  Since then, we’ve been rewarded with hundreds of sightings of the horses, armadillos, etc. – sometimes so numerous that they’re blocking our way as we walk down a path.

Cumberland Island is a fascinating place to visit with an amazing documented history going back to the 16th century, although possibly occupied as early as 2000 BC by aboriginal people for it’s diverse & delectable food sources including oysters, crabs, fish, deer & bear.  In the 1800’s, it was a getaway for rich Industrialist families including the Carnegies.  Now it part of the National Park system.  Wikipedia has a great summary of the island & especially of it’s fascinating history