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!

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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

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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.

 

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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.

U G L Y

U G L Y

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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.

The Almost Final Stretch: Tracy’s Landing to Cape May

The Glass House

The Glass House- we unexpectedly see it again after 6 years

After departing Herrington Harbor Marina at Tracy’s Landing, the plan was to transit the C&D Canal, stop for 2-3 nights at Delaware City Marina, then head down the Delaware River to Cape May. All of this would be the farthest north we’d be with Twin Sisters so far. This would be our first time in Cape May by boat via the Cape May canal that leads in off the Delaware’s eastern shore near the mouth of the DE River.

The good thing about protected places is that they ARE protected. The bad thing is you DO NOT know the exact state of conditions outside of that protection, no matter what the weather services say. But we kinda know the Chesapeake and venturing out on the Bay in winds (and therefore waves) that you are moving into will not be pleasant (for us anyhow) with a wind velocity greater than 8mph- ish.  A 5- 10 forecast became 10-15 on departure morning, but fearless cruisers pay no mind and deal with the cards you are dealt. Yeh, maybe for a few hours they do but then they become wiser, very uncomfortable, and bail out!

I looked for a protected anchorage within a reasonable distance off the Bay and found the Magothy River with a few options. Oh and I think we anchored here heading south in 2010, because the Glass House is kinda memorable.

Our spot at the end of the cul-du-sac (you get the idea) was lovely and protected- just what we wanted. Two osprey nests kept the binocs and camera busy. One nest appeared to missing Dad for a very long time, but I am happy to say that he eventually showed up with food.

she calls out

Mama calls out – wondering where her child’s next meal is coming from

And so she waits, and waits

And she waits, and waits……

While in the neighbor's nest....

Meanwhile in the neighbor’s nest Dad has returned multiple times with seafood.

Mom caught her own meal but this was delivered by Dad

Mom caught her own meal but Dad finally delivered.

The nastiness of Friday behind us, we had a longer day Saturday but it was pleasant except for the active power boat zone before the C&D’s western entrance where blessed “No Wake” signs smiled upon us.

St Georges bridges & heron

St Georges bridges over the C&D Canal. That’s a heron in flight

We last visited Delaware City Marina October 2010 where the friendly marina staff made a lasting impression as did the warmth and yummy meals at Crabby Dicks. This time as then the darn Wx*#x*!  misbehaved and we’d be tucked in for three nights before moving on.

Tara, the marina’s office mgr is a twenty-something local who shows city pride with the info folder she assembles and eagerly gives you the low-down on places to eat, etc.  Crabby Dick’s had competition now from Lewinsky’s on Clinton. Isn’t that convenient how the main street down to the water is Clinton Street?

A real blacksmith shop on Clinton St. They made the iron railings for Lewinsky's

A real blacksmith shop on Clinton St. They made the iron railings for Lewinsky’s

A wrought iron gate

This is a large photo of a wrought iron gate. The tree trunk almost conceals the opening.

The marina sits alongside what was the original eastern entrance stretch of the C&D canal. When the canal was widened and deepened in 1927 the entrance was moved two miles south to its present spot at Reedy Point, leaving a narrow and protected stretch for the marina, dock space for the ferry to Pea Patch Island and the city’s fire & rescue boats.

The very long D dock agt DE City marina- note how alone we are

The very long ‘D’ dock at DE City marina- note how alone we are. The boats ahead of us are stored or long-term

Not much room when the weekenders are in the way

Not much room when the week-enders are in the way. The sailboat coming in was encouraged to “use your horn” by the marina’s owner.  The docked boats to the left are slip holders, not transients.

Will they make it under?

Will they make it under? If you can fit under the bridge you will end up on the C&D canal. The bridge used to open, but it’s been welded permanently shut.

Sunday geared up to be quite the windy gusty day as confirmed by the crazy boats out in it; at least 8 arrived to join us. No rain with this front so walking around town and out to the edge of the river was doable. A pretty Trumpy, m/y Aurora IV (68ft built 1955) slid in to her spot like “what wind and current?” We’d seen her around and her sister too, m/y Enticer.

Expert maneuvering- a thruster helps

Expert maneuvering- a thruster helps

 

Orig old lock saved for viewing, 22ft wide!

Orig old lock saved for viewing, 22ft wide!

About the locks and expanding the canal in 1927

We were surprised that the lock was only widened two feet, but was a major undertaking in 1854 for sure.

 

about the orig canal

The original canal was one difficult undertaking, much like the Cape Cod Canal.

The marina wi-fi  doesn’t reach farther than 100ft from the office, but with our Alpha booster antenna we picked it up easily. The Alpha was an early acquisition that has proven a smart choice and an excellent value for what it does. The cord is long enough so you can put it most anywhere, including outside the boat if needed, which we often did on Ortolan.

Bike Fixtation & air pump

Bike Fixtation & air pump. How great is this for bicyclists? Air, tools and a stand for the bike

The marina offers bikes and we took the two best ones for short ride along the Canal Trail. The path is fairly recent, only a few years old with a couple of very new stretches.

The canal bike/walking/partial horse trail is an easy ride

The canal bike/walking/partial horse trail is an easy ride

 

Old meets new C&D Canal- Reedy Pt bridge to left

Old meets new C&D Canal- Reedy Pt bridge to left

We hadn’t brought water so after a while I turned back while Russ kept going for a bit. I returned just in time to see m/y Merlion (like Mermaid I guess) arrive. Why do I mention this you wonder? Let’s just say we don’t know the boat but we do know the guy at the bow.

Well someone aboard has to do the pump out

Fueling up and pumping out!

Tuesday, with low winds and current in our favor we motored (oh right, that’s all we do now) down the Delaware, which for once didn’t look like the Blah Yuck River.

Rainbow bar in clouds but no rain- called Fire Rainbow- ice crystals create color

Rainbow bar in clouds but no rain- called Fire Rainbow- ice crystals create color

Across the river from Cape May is Lewes, Delaware and the large ferries run regularly back and forth. A dredge is working across from the Cape May ferry dock, hopefully making transit better for all boaters, so the smart if not cautious boat waits outside the jetties if a ferry is about to depart or enter. Yes that was us and a couple of others. Boy that ferry terminal is impressive.

Ya you guys go , we'll follow

Good, you guys go, we’ll follow

Sure do make em big here

Sure do make ’em big here- plenty of room for all.

Our hope was to spend a couple of nights anchored by the Coast Guard (training) station and experience some of Cape May- like the lighthouse, beach, seafood dining and pretty Victorian homes. Nope, not gonna happen. We fueled up at Utsch’s Marina, winner of the narrowest fuel docking spots, then dropped the Ultra close but not too close to the CG Station.

Tight squeeze at Utsch's fuel slip

Tight squeeze at Utsch’s fuel slip

Dyad is a very identifiable vessel; you may recall a photo from 5 or 6 years ago, this baby is big and badass unattractive. I was going to say ugly but that’s not nice. Plus she’s a catamaran and well, we are too.  Most cruisers know of Dyad and we knew she was around after we spotted her leaving our hidey hole off the Magothy, and again the day we biked the canal trail.

We thought Dyad might get boarded- darn

We thought Dyad might get boarded- darn. Would keep us entertained for a bit

A bunch of boats anchored there, most probably heading north like us, each with a different ability and plan to get to somewhere north. Those with speeds of at least 9kts can make NYC in the ample daylight available this time of year. Love it. Slower boats need to travel overnight or tuck into another New Jersey inlet (not many safe ones) if night travel isn’t appealing. We considered it, briefly. Nah, just bought diesel, so use it. That was the plan.

If all went according to our hopeful plan we’d zoom up the New Jersey coast to Sandy Hook on Wednesday, then take a day to get as far east through Long Island Sound as possible (within reason of course), ending up the CT River on Friday.

Fun Times at Tracy with Bonny

COuldn't resist this one

Am unable to resist photographing a pretty sunset. At Herrington Harbor North

The trip up to Herrington Harbor North at Tracy’s Landing was a rather short four hours. Along the way we reached the 3,000 nm mark, about 3,450 statute or land miles. The big excitement of the day was retrieving Bonny from her outside winter “home” at Skinners Turn Storage, just a 10 mile uber trip away. She looked good and started right up after Russ re-connected the batteries. A bit musty but hey that will dissipate.

Packages awaited us at the marina office where we confirmed a week’s stay (at least) and got a pool pass (can you believe it went unused?) Haha

Taller new batteries

Our new boat batteries- taller but no heavier. Trojan (deep cycle golf cart)

I’d been waiting with very high expectations for these new babies ever since Russ attended an electrical/solar/battery talk on Volleyball Beach in George Town, Bahamas. These replaced the not-very-old AGM dudes. The Trojans are designed for constant and deep discharging. Since we rely on our batteries to keep two or three fridge/freezers running all night, these new ones can handle discharging down to 12.3 (or lower) and still come back swinging full force. Life on the hook just got a positive boost. Leave it to a Trojan to provide great protection, right?

uh oh- engine trouble ruins the day for these locals

Uh oh- engine trouble ruins the day for these locals

So we are sitting at the salon table, I look up to see a boat about to kiss our exposed starboard side- what the? Turns out they had engine troubles, no power and so we helped them tie up around the corner. Weekend outings are so precious; we remember those times.

About to scoop a crab off the line & into his bucket

About to scoop a crab off the trot line & into his bucket. The harbor must be loaded with crabs!

Time got carved out for a short drive down to Herrington Harbor South where Don on s/v Blue Dancer now had a slip. We’d met him during our stay last Sept/Oct. He headed south but due to circumstances never got farther than Swan Point Marina in NC where we last saw him, preparing to be hauled out then fly home to Hawaii. A genuine, really nice man who loves to sail and I am certain is an excellent sailor. (maybe he and Patti should meet!) A lovely evening and my first Mojito in a long time. (thanks for planting the idea Benj)

The dreaded day arrived. No, not leaving the marina. The day we’d spend 15 hours away from Twins driving Ms Bonny to Connecticut and shelling out $67 in tolls for the pleasure of the shortest (fastest?) route on I95 and the NJ Turnpike. All in all the trip was good. Our EZPass is a life saver. We stopped at Tweed New Haven Airport for the Hertz (best price) car we’d drive back to MD, grabbed a delicious fast lunch at Lobster Landing (you should all be drooling and very jealous now), picked up our mail, dropped off Bonny, and back we went. Oh, I should mention that a HUGE mass of rain and thunder storms was headed east. PA got it bad but location and timing was our friend today and only had some light rain a couple of times on the way back. Whew, I was very glad we dodged that.

Google saved us a 90 minute delay on I95 before the GW, routing us on the Hutchinson and Saw Mill Parkways. The bridge seemed half empty, mostly due to the backup, we figured.

Dinner stop on return from MINI to CT- 15 hour dayFinding a place for dinner is my challenging job. Was easier in pre-smartphone days when you almost had to stop at a service plaza or take a chance on some exit. I used a couple of different methods to find a place not too far off the interstate where we could wait out any commuting traffic slowdowns. Thanks for the help honey.

Texas Roadhouse came out on top and while 6 miles off the interstate, we just knew we’d be pleased. Oh ya babe, sure were. Only our third time ever in a TR; each time the entire experience has been delightful. You know how often the first time can be so great and then the next is so-so. Not so at TR and since this was our first time at this particular one, they lavished extra attention upon us. But not so hovering that we couldn’t stand it.

Insides of sat TV dome

Insides of satellite TV dome

Inside that rounded dome thing that sat forward of the solar panels is a mini 360 degree directional dish that moves to find the station you want- or some such nonsense. You have to subscribe to DIRECTV in order to watch anything. I will spare you the LONG story on this but we tried it for a 3-day trial last Oct, and for a whole bunch of reasons, decided it wasn’t for us.

A few days before arriving at Herrington, Russ placed it on ebay along with the box and wiring, making sure that the darn thing still worked. yes it did. He listed it for pickup only and at the end of the auction- SOLD to a local guy who came when he said he would and took it off our hands. Weight off the boat is a good thing; so too is $$ in our PayPal account.

All week we listened and watched osprey in action. As we passed a nest on our way out I finally got a decent photo… or two

 

Its not much but its home- with a prime address 1R

It’s not much but it’s home- with a prime address in the harbor.

For many days the June 10 forecast promised 5-10, but from the north so we said, OK we need to get moving, we’ll do it; how bad can it be? Saturday looked much better and after a short day we’d be nestled in at Delaware City Marina, hunkered down for 3 nights.

Lots of possibilities here, as we enter the home stretch; Essex/Deep River CT only 375 nm away.

 

Solomons- Amphibiously Fabulous

entering Solomons

Entering Solomons

Calvert Marina occupies what was once the site of our country’s first amphibious training base. Few of the buildings remain but you can see and read about them as you walk around the grounds, which indeed have a military feel.

Here’s the short cliff notes summary:

In the early 1940s the world was at war and a new military base was being built on Dowell Peninsula. At its peak, in 1944, the base had 10,150 men. These hastily trained men shipped out to U.S. fleets in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Training was likely to have been little more than a quick cruise on the Bay watching the school staff chief petty officers handle the boat and perhaps getting in a question or two. Men were often formed into crews in those first frantic months of war in 1942 without ever seeing the type of vessel they’d be called upon to operate. God love ‘em.

Fortunately, as time went on the training expanded and the base turned out well-trained men, proficient in all aspects of operations. But only up until 1945, when the base closed.

We received our own very basic training in docking alongside a floating dock (we like these) without an assistance (we don’t like that). We chose Calvert Marina not only for its easy floating docks and reasonable price but because friends Ann & Mike of m/v Traveling Soul were there. They just weren’t on the boat when we arrived, but we knew that ahead.

The marina offers a loaner car that you can take for up to one hour; not much time, but a decent Food Lion is up the road a few miles and that’s all we needed. Got that done Sunday morning and then dinghied over to the excellent Calvert Museum. We love these well laid out, inside and outside Chesapeake museums.

Calvert Marine Museum

Calvert Marine Museum is located across from the Calvert Marina- a very short dinghy ride

We also didn’t mind qualifying for the Sr Citizen rate- amazingly fair at $7.  This museum isn’t as large as the one in St Michaels but it’s the right size for me.

Megladon

Megladon- almost not terrifying as “skeleton only” but put flesh and skin on, and a monster is revealed

The homey-ness of the lighthouse is amazing and a 360 degree view!

After lunch, keeping an eye on the sky for rain, we got in a quick harbor tour then tied up at a town dock on Solomons Island. We found the usual: a few shops, eateries, pubs, ice cream but also the J.C. Lore Oyster Packing Plant now owned by the Calvert Museum.

For many years this was a major shucking and packing operation - Solomons Island by The Narrows of Back Creek

For many years this was a major shucking and packing operation on Solomons Island, by The Narrows of Back Creek

 

Shucking stations- two different heights for taller or shorter person

Shucking stations- two different heights for a taller or shorter person

 

This man was amazing!

This man was amazing!

 

One half of a display of unusual oysters from around the world

One half of a display of unusual oysters from around the world

And then it did in fact finally rain… but we were back aboard.🙂 Monday was a washout thanks to Tropical Storm Bonny who sent a ton of rain up our way, but most of it passed east of us. We were surprised to see our friends walking down the dock much earlier than expected. But wait, why are those other people with them? Uh oh, car trouble – a tow and a ride from friends!

Russ spent many hours researching and ordering items for our Herrington Harbor project week. Now doesn’t that sound like a fun week? The good part is then we have less to tackle in the summer.

Tuesday brought sunny and warm, as well as another grocery trip, this time with Ann to a Giant (same as Stop&Shop up north) because we blow through certain foods very fast and Giant offers a bigger better selection. We swung by the condo complex where Ann & Mike will be owners soon, living part of the year on land and part on Traveling Soul. I like that plan and that we can see them on land and on the water still. Way to go guys!

Happy Hour aboard Traveling Soul was extra nice. Not only hadn’t we seen these guys and Empress Spot, in 3 months but we also got to meet cruising friends of theirs, Tom & Cristina on m/v Tadhana. Had heard the stories, got the cleanser recipe and now got to meet them.